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HBO Europe Greenlights Swedish Original ‘Beartown,’ Based on Bestselling Book

HBO Europe has greenlit the Swedish original miniseries “Beartown,” which will be directed by Peter Grönlund and is adapted from Fredrik Backman’s (“A Man Called Ove”) bestselling novel of the same name.

The series, five episodes of an hour each, is being produced by Filmlance International, a company owned by Endemol Shine Group.

Written by Anders Weidemann, Antonia Pyk and Linn Gottfridsson, “Beartown” revolves around a Swedish forest town and its people who have put all their hopes in the junior ice-hockey team competing in the national semifinals.

The heavy burden resting on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys culminates in a violent act which leaves a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. “Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected,” HBO Europe said in a statement.

Ulf Stenberg and Aliette Opheim will star in the miniseries, which will soon start shooting on location in the north of Sweden. The series will premiere day-and-date on HBO Nordic and across HBO Europe territories.

“We fell in love with ‘Beartown’ the first time we read it,” Bonnie Skoog Feeney and Mattias Arehn, producers at Filmlance International, said in a joint statement. It is a story you feel in both your stomach and your heart. Backman has created a universe with characters who give everything – for their town, for their sport and for their children.”

The pair said they wanted to “create a drama where everything is at stake, where we see and feel all of the different sides of humanity – not only in the characters we are depicting, but in ourselves as well.”

Antony Root, executive VP of programming and production at HBO Europe, said: “Fredrik Backman’s novel combines an utterly compelling story, characters that jump off the page, a unique setting, and the exhilaration and drama of competitive sport, while exploring deeply resonant themes of community, masculinity, youth and hope.”

Backman made his literary debut in 2012 with “A Man Called Ove,” whose film adaption was nominated for two Oscars in 2017. A New York Times bestseller, “Beartown” was shortlisted for a number of awards, including the Audie Award 2018 and the Goodreads Choice Awards in the U.S. and Book of the Year Award in Sweden. It was also selected by Amazon as one of the top 20 titles of 2017.

“Rarely do you read a book where not just the characters and the story but even the sounds from the arena you just visited stay with you. ‘Beartown’ is such a book. You literally move in – you become a part of Beartown and Beartown becomes a part of you,” said Hanne Palmquist, commissioning editor and VP of original programming for HBO Nordic.

Peter Grönlund made his feature debut with “Drifters,” which world premiered at San Sebastian in 2015. His latest film “Goliath” is nominated for six Guldbagge Awards.

Fredrik Backman is executive producing the series and is represented by Salomonsson Agency, Tor Jonasson and Sophie Smirnakos. Executive producers for HBO Europe are Palmquist, Root and Steve Matthews.

HBO Europe started producing originals in Scandinavia in 2016, and currently has two other Nordic series in the pipeline: “Beforeigners” from Norway and “Gösta” from Sweden.

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