Netflix has signed an exclusive multi-year first-look deal with leading Danish producer Kim Magnusson to produce original feature films from the Nordic region. The projects, which will be produced, predominantly, in their local languages, will be released globally on the streaming platform. Magnusson will work with both established filmmakers and new talent.
Magnusson has produced or executive produced more than 125 movies and TV series, including Zoe Saldana’s “I Kill Giants,” Mads Mikkelsen’s “Men and Chicken,” J.K. Simmons’ “Worlds Apart,” “Headhunter,” “Terkel in Trouble,” Pilou Asbæk’s “R” and Nicolas Winding Refn’s three “Pusher” films. He has been Oscar-nominated in the live-action short film category six times, winning with “Election Night” and “Helium.” He received an Emmy for the film “Island on Bird Street.”
In a statement, Ian Bricke, Netflix’s director of content acquisition, said Magnusson had “incredibly strong relationships with talent in Scandinavia, and a proven track record of producing high-quality films.” He added: “Scandinavia has a strong pedigree in storytelling, and we’re excited that Kim is on board to help discover and produce great local projects for our global audience.”
Magnusson founded M&M Productions with his father, Tivi Magnusson, in 1995, and was CEO of Nordisk Film’s Film Division from 2003-2009. He has been chairman of the Danish Film Academy for 19 years, and chairman of the Danish Producers’ Association for nine years.
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Magnusson told Variety on Monday: “Netflix is a great way for Nordic films to be financed, and will give opportunities for great filmmakers and talent [from the region] to evolve, and for great stories to be shown around the world.”
Magnusson sees Netflix as offering international producers the same access to global audiences that used to be provided by the Hollywood studios. But since the studios have largely withdrawn from the foreign-language specialty market, international producers have been forced to raise finance through a combination of government subsidies, funding from local broadcasters, and territory by territory sales.
“With Netflix, you have [access] to a global audience. That is the most exciting thing about it: For me and the projects I am going to be involved in – and many of them will be co-produced with other producers from around the Nordic region – it is going to be a one-stop shop,” he said.
“We are going to go there and if Netflix thinks it is a great idea and they like the story, then they will find the budget and we’ll make the movie. We won’t have to sit and wait for the different film institutes in the Nordic region or the different public television stations to get it funded. So for independent producers it can be only an advantage for us.”
Magnusson sees the Nordic region as “being an ever-evolving talent pool,” but there are great projects and stories that “can’t get told because there is a cap on the industry financing opportunities here.”
However, he said that the streaming giants should be seen as an “add on” to the existing independent film financing model. “This is not something that is trying to replace [that]; this is a great opportunity to add [to that], and make sure that all the best stories from the region get told.”
The Netflix projects would have a budget range similar to the existing average for films from the Nordic region, which is from $2 million to $6 million, “depending on what kind of movie it is,” he said. “It all depends on the projects we find, and the stories we want to tell.” But, he added, they would want to make the films “a little more global, a little bigger in scale, and a little bigger in scope, and you sometimes need to use some more money for higher production values and the best locations.”
The number of projects that will go through the first-look deal with Netflix has not been set, and will depend on when projects are ready to be greenlit, but Magnusson would like to “make as many movies as they can within the scope of the deal.” He already has many projects in development, including those at M&M Productions, and he will also be “reaching out to all the different talent and producers from the region” in the coming weeks. In June and July, he will start pitching projects to Netflix with an eye to going into pre-production in the fall.
Among the projects to be pitched to Netflix will be the biopic Magnusson is developing about comedian-pianist Victor Borge with the writer/producer duo of Mette Lisby and Jesper Baehrenz, which was exclusively announced by Variety last year.
Magnusson wants to work across all genres, including thrillers and romantic comedies. He will also pitch TV series ideas to Netflix, although that will lie outside the scope of the first-look movie deal of course.