German Distributor Splendid Film & ‘Stella Blomkvist’ Producer Sagafilm to Adapt ‘Operation Napoleon’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Kjartan Thor Thordarson
Credit: Sagafilm

Icelandic production powerhouse Sagafilm and Germany’s Splendid Film are teaming on the major feature project “Operation Napoleon,” to be lensed mostly in English.

Budgeted at around €6 million ($7.2 million), the thriller is based on the eponymous best-selling novel by Iceland’s crime master Arnaldur Indriðason, whose earlier novel “Jar City” was successfully filmed by Baltasar Kormákur.

Published locally in 2009 and translated into English in 2011, “Operation Napoleon” was awarded a Crime Dagger by the Crime Writers’ Association.

The story centers on a young Icelandic female lawyer who’s suddenly sucked into the vortex of an international conspiracy after being accused of a murder she didn’t commit. Her only chance of survival lies in uncovering the secret of an old German World War II airplane, recently discovered on Iceland’s largest glacier.

The project is the biggest film commitment in more than a decade for Sagafilm, behind some of Iceland’s top selling-shows in recent years, from “Stella Blómkvist” to “The Minister”.

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Operation Napoleon Credit: Vintage

“To team up on a film of this magnitude, based on a novel by an Icelandic author, is bound to result in a successful film,” said Sagafilm Nordic CEO Kjartan Thor Thordarson. “We are very proud to be part of this project and look forward to seeing it through with Splendid Film. The co-operation furthermore strengthens Sagafilm’s ties to the German industry, following Beta Film acquiring 25% share in our company last year,” Thordarson pointed out.

“After having developed the project with creative partner Ralph Christians and writer Marteinn Thorisson [“Jack Taylor”], we are now happy to have found Sagafilm as our Icelandic production partner who are equally excited about the project as we are,” said Dr. Dirk Schweitzer, Splendid Film managing director and CEO of the Splendid Group.

Schweitzer continued: “Splendid has been expanding its production activities into the Netherlands with a feature film franchise and a series, and is now pursuing further production ventures in the Nordic countries with its first Icelandic feature film.”

“Operation Napoleon” will be filmed entirely in Iceland, with its production start slated for later this year. Sam Film will handle the Icelandic premiere and Splendid Film the German distribution.

Sagafilm will talk up the project to potential partners at Göteborg’s vitual Nordic Film Market, to be attended by more than 600 global accredited participants between Feb. 4-7.

The company’s other feature project, “Wolka,” which is co-produced with Poland’s Film Producja, will be pitched at the works in progress. The crime drama helmed by Árni Ólafur Ásgeirsson is due to open this spring in Iceland. Arri Media International handles world sales.

Sagafilm just launched at Göteborg’s two-day TV Drama Vision -a preamble to Nordic Film Market- its anticipated premium drama “Sisterhood,” first fruit of its development and distribution deal with Sky Studios. Penned by Sagafilm’s head of development Jóhann Ævar Grímsson, the crime drama was nominated for a Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize for Best Screenplay of a Nordic TV drama.

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Wolka Credit: Sagafilm