Norwegian director Mikkel Brænne Sandemose, whose latest feature, 2013’s “Ragnarok,” received two Amandas, Norway’s national film prize, will open “The Ash Lad: In the Hall of the Mountain King” (“Askeladden – i Dovregubbens hall”) in Norwegian cinemas on Sept. 29 as the first of a trilogy about the Norwegian national hero.
Credited with such titles as Norwegian director Petter Næss’ 2001 “Elling,” more recently Rasmus A Sivertsen’s “The Christmas of Louis and Luca” and Arild Fröhlich’s “Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder” (2014), will invest $22 million in the three features about the fictional Norwegian character.
A family picture, “The Ash Lad: In the Hall of the Mountain King,” is co-produced by the Czech Republic’s Sirene Film and Ireland’s Subotica Entertainment on a $7 million budget.
“Obviously we are not only targeting Norwegian cinema-goers, but also international audiences,” said Maipo producer-CEO Synnøve Hørsdal, who decided on a new trilogy after the “Louis & Luca” series was picked up worldwide, mainly by Universal.
“Given the renewed interest in the fantasy genre and Nordic mythology, I think it will perform well abroad,” Hørsdal said.
He added: “The Ash Lad is a naïve optimist who wants a good life for everybody; he fights for good against evil for whoever needs it. He is a character both in Norwegian folk tales and the countries which share our cultural heritage. He represents something genuine and will certainly impact audiences of adventure films.”
Created in the 1850s by Norwegian authors Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, the Ash Lad is a small man, the youngest of three brothers, who always wins in the end, sometimes the princess and half the kingdom. “In the new films, we use elements and characters from the old tales. Otherwise they are new stories, which include these elements,” according to Hørsdal.
In the first film, scripted by Aleksander Kirkwood Brown and Espen Enger, the Ash Lad and his brothers fight to save the Princess from a vile troll, and collect the reward to save the family farm from ruin. In the sequel, also by Sandemose and Brown-Enger, he and Princess Kristin are searching for a legendary castle made of gold. When they arrive, the king and queen have been poisoned – only the Soria Moria water of life can save them and probably the world.
Susan Wendt, sales and marketing director at Danish international sales agency TrustNordisk, has pre-sold “The Ash Lad: In the Hall of the Mountain King” to more than 10 countries, among others the Nordic countries, the Baltics, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, Turkey and China.
Hørsdal will be in Haugesund promoting Norwegian director Eirik Svensson’s new feature “Harajuku,” which is presented Wednesday as a work-in-progress in the New Nordic Films market.