NENT’s Brain Academy Plans Mikael Hafstrom Epic & Magic-Themed Movie from ‘Let the Right One In’ Writer (EXCLUSIVE)

Mikael Hafstrom and Helena Danielsson
Credit: Brain Academy

NENT Group’s Swedish label Brain Academy is plotting two major films from A-list writing-directing teams. The first, “The World Council of Magic,” is helmed by “The Most Beautiful Boy in the World”’s Kristian Petri, based on a screenplay by genre-bending author John Ajvide Lindqvist(”Border,” “Let the Right One In”).

”The World Council of Magic” is my first script not based on one of my stories,” said Lindqvist, often dubbed the Stephen King of Sweden. The film deals with a group of elderly magicians of the practical kind. In their hungry youth, they searched for the secret behind actual magic. Now, when they’re in their seventies, one of them gets the long-awaited revelation that allows him to manipulate the material world with his mind,

“Magic, real magic! But like with all great powers, it comes at a high – and bloody – price” said Lindqvist. “Despite their own lack of powers, the other members of the group know that they have to put a stop to the madness. But maybe they have powers that they’re not yet aware of?”

Lindqvist who’s had a passion for magic since an early age, said the project is his ”exploration of how far we are willing to go to transcend the petty human condition.”

Brain Academy’s executive producer and co-founder Helena Danielsson said Lindqvist and Petri share a 10-year long friendship and collaboration. ”We’re in a privileged situation as Lindqvist’s script is ready. It’s a fully developed package and we’re casting for financing,” she said.

Petri just competed at Sundance with his documentary – co-helmed by Kristina Lindström – ”The Most Beautiful Boy in the World” – acquired by Juno Films for the U.S.

Danielsson’s other major project will reunite her with Swedish helmer Håfström and Norwegian scribe Erlend Loe after ”The Perfect Patient,” for which David Dencik bagged a best supporting actor Guldbagge Award in 2020.

The untitled epic drama will be the second project in a multi-title deal which gives Scandinavian giant Nordisk Film distribution access to Danielsson and Håfström’s creative collaborations. Swedish regional film fund Film i Väst has also committed to the new feature.

The project is set during the dark chapter of Swedish history known as The Stockholm Bloodbath in 1520, which refers to the mass execution of Swedish nobles by the Danish King Christian II. ”It’s a story of political power play and intrigue as relevant now as it was 500 years ago, said Håfström, whose last directing gig was Netflix show ”Outside the Wire.”

Danielsson describes the project as a Scandi-style “The Favourite” meets ”Gladiator” and “Game of Thrones.” Commenting on the rival ”Stockholm Bloodbath” project announced last week by SF Studios, she said: ”These things happen sometime in our industry, with projects set during certain time periods or events that at first look similar, but are not. We will explore various themes such as the Catholic times in the Nordics, and will have a very different story.” Production start is pencilled for 2022.

Brain Academy’s film slate also features a trilogy based on Selma Lagerlöf books “The Phantom Carriage” (1912), “The Treasure” (1904) and “Liliecrona’s Home” (1911). ”Selma had an amazing way of describing human stories, illnesses, poverty and her writing is still topical today,” said Danielsson about the first female Nobel Laureate for Literature.

On the TV side, the producers of ”Swedish Dicks” and ”Conspiracy of Silence” have another mega Scandinavian costume drama in development: ”VASA,” about the Swedish royals, ”the worst of the Tudors, Medici and Romanoff dynasties,” according to Danielsson. The screenplay is penned by rising-female writer duo Alexia Bergström and Laura Brummer.

Set up in 2014, the talent-driven Brain Academy has three of its co-founders – Danielsson, producer Daniel Lagersten and show-runner Patrik Ehrnst- still at the helm, while their original partner Peter Settman left last September to focus on U.S. projects.