Stockholm-based super-indie FLX, which proved with Nordic B.O. hit “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window” (pictured above) as well as TV shows “Welcome to Sweden” and “Solsidan” the export potential of Swedish comedy, is developing a flurry of high-concept laffers with local talent and international partners.
The company has 10 drama and comedy projects in various stages of production, including “Hitman Anders and The Meaning of It All,” which will be the first TV-series based on a novel by Jonas Jonasson, the author of the bestseller “100-Year Old Man.”
Comprising six episodes, “Hitman” is based on Jonasson’s eponymous book, released in Sweden just two weeks ago, and turns on an ex-con doing small jobs for big gangsters until joining forces with a female priest and a homeless receptionist at a former brothel.
“(‘Hitman’) has the same kind of humor and colorful characters as ‘The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window,'” said Pontus Edgren, who co-founded FLX with actor-director Felix Herngren and writer Niclas Carlsson.
Sold by Studiocanal, “100-Year Old Man” traveled to 55 territories and was a box office hit, grossing $51 million worldwide. It’s Sweden’s highest-grossing local feature of all time. FLX is currently developing a sequel with its co-producer Nice.
On top of “Hitman,” FLX is producing “The Bonus Family,” a 10 episode dramedy series for SVT, as well as “the Simple Heist,” a 6 episode crime comedy skein for TV4. Herngren, the well-known Swedish actor-director and co-founder of FLX is the showrunner of both shows.
Based on Herngren’s own life experiences, “The Bonus Family” is a contempo dramedy about the challenges of remarriage and combining families. The series will roll out in late 2016 on SVT and the producers are currently in advanced talks for pre-sell it to various territories.
“The Simple Heist” is a remake of an 80s Swedish hit series about two middle-aged well-established men who become criminals out of frustration to pay high taxes. A feelgood twist on “Thelma and Louise,” the FLX remake stars two women in their late 50s – a doctor and a high-school teacher — with no previous criminal record, who decide to rob a bank.
FLX is currently collaborating with FremantleMedia International on “Boy Machine,” one of the hottest Scandinavian shows pitched at Mipcom.
“Boy Machine,” penned by Per Gavatin is a half-hour comedy skein turning on a quartet of forty-something friends who used to form a famed boys band in the 90’s and reunite 18 years after their heyday to reconquer the charts.
Gavatin is also the head writer of FLX’s “Torpederna,” the dramedy series that has been optioned by Paramount Television and Anonymous Content for a U.S. remake.
Modeled on U.S. companies, FLX hires approximately 20 staff writers and builds writers’ rooms for each film and TV show it develops.
“We place a large emphasis on the development and writing to create ideas with universal relevance and appeal. That’s a unique philosophy within Scandinavia — to employ the best creators and writers and give them a platform to reach a global audience. FLX has more on staff writers than any other company in the region,” said Edgren.
The topper explained that while most companies in Scandinavia rely on freelance creators for specific projects to reduce overheads, FLX has a long-term strategy which consists in attracting and keeping the best talent in house. “We staff multiple projects quickly and work in rotating writing teams,” added Edgren.
FLX is also developing”Borg & Brown,” a crime spoof series dealing with the Nordic Noir trend.
“Borg & Brown” pokes fun at the rise of the international co-productions of crime series such as “The Team,” “The Bridge” and “The 100 Code.”
“Borg & Brown” turns on a female Swedish detective with severe anger management issues who has to team up with a senior British detective to catch a serial killer.
Edgren described the characters as “Millennium”‘s Lisbeth Salander meets “Midsomer Murders”‘s Tom Barnaby.
As “Welcome to Sweden,” “Borg & Brown” will shoot mainly in English.
On its track-record, FLX boasts “Solsidan”(Sweden’s most popular comedy series the past 20 years, now in its fifth season), whose format has been optioned in the U.S with showrunner Dave Mandel (“Seinfeld”) on board, “The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window” and “Welcome to Sweden,” which is repped by eOne and marks the first-ever Swedish-U.S. co-co-production between TV4 and NBC.
Within the next few years, FLX has a clear ambition to produce English-language TV shows and movies aimed at the international market.
“We all grew up consuming great American and British comedies and drama. Now it’s time for us to give something back — we certainly have the will and a team of fantastic writers and producers who can make it happen,” said Edgren.