In first phase sales, Alief has closed multiple major territories across Europe and Asia on “Cop Secret,” one of the key titles marking as move towards the mainstream in the lineup at August’s Locarno Festival, where it had its world premiere.
Made on the near eve of this year’s American Film Market, the sales announcement comes after the comedy action romp bowed in its native Iceland on Oct. 20 breaking a 15-year-old record for the biggest box office opening weekend for a local title.
A buddy cop spoof rendering real the homoerotic undercurrents of the genre, having played the BFI London and Busan Festivals, the feature debut of Icelandic Hannes Thór Halldórsson is now set as the opening night gala,playing in competition, on Nov. 3 at the Nordic Days in Lubbeck, Germany where the film has been acquired, as for German-language territories by MFA Plus Film Distribution, which is eying a Q2 2022 theatrical release.
After what Alief reports as competing bids, Cop Secret has also closed Spain, picked up by Twelve Oaks Pictures, whose recent pickups include Plan A and Creation Stories.
In major Asian territories, Japanes rights has been licensed to AT Entertainment, distributor of Justin Kurzel’s “True Story of the Kelly Gang” and Daniel Radcliffe starrer “Escape from Pretoria.”
Movement Pictures, an action adventure and sci-fi specialist, has secured Korea; Creative Century Ent. (“Sparrow,” “Blood of the Blue”) has taken Taiwan.
Leading into the AFM, Alief is in active talks with North American, British and pan-European theatrical buyers, it told Variety.
Tipping its hat frenetically and in unabashed fashion to ‘80s and ‘90s buddy cop action classics in its action set-ups, characters and shots – as when the camera swoops over blue Icelandic water to a rather bathetic non-“Miami Vice” skyline at the get-go – “Cop Secret” turns on Bussi, a tough “supercop” played by Audunn Blöndal (“The Garden”), who shoots people and destroys stuff, “Bad Boys”-style.
But when Bussi is assigned a new partner – the suave, cultured and self-declaredly pan-sexual Hordur Bess, played by “Black’s Game’s” Egill Einarsson – rough-edged macho Bussi begins an inner struggle with his true sexuality.
Meanwhile, the partners are assigned to crack a rash of bank robberies where nothing seems to have been stolen, masterminded by a soft-talking psychopath who has to be restrained from killing his own team – something his own team does pretty well anyway.
“‘Cop Secret’s’ strong point is the perfect balance between action and comedic scenes, with rhythm that retains thrills a minute, from beginning to end,” said Brett Walker, president at Alief.
“After each festival screening we’ve had with an audience, we’ve received passionate reactions from buyers and press alike, steadily translating buzz into deals with key players that love the film’s unique positioning,” Miguel Angel Govea, Alief head of production & distribution.
“Cop Secret” caught early attention for marking the feature directorial debut of Halldórsson. A professional soccer goalkeeper, he is best known for turning away a penalty kick by Lionel Messi in a 2018 soccer World Cup match between Iceland and Argentina.
Read in multiple ways by critics, while scoring an 88% Rotten Tomatoes ratings from first reactions, “Cop Secret’s” sales a sign of how foreign-language genre plays are building as an alternative to straight arrow art house as an international business at a time when sales to platforms come as easy as territory-by-territory roll outs.
“Cop Secret” is written by Nína Petersen, Sverrir Thór Sverrison, and Halldórsson. It is produced by Lilja Ósk Snorradóttir (“Echo”) for Iceland’s Pegasus Pictures, which has provided production services on Sky’s “Fortitude” and HBO’s “Succession.”
“Cop Secret” also stars Steinunn Ólína Thorsteinsdóttir (“The Garden”), Vivian Ólafsdóttir (“Echo”), Sverrir Thór Sverrisson (“A White, White Day”) and Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, a lead character in A24’s “Lamb” and Netflix’s “Eurovision Song Contest” and “The Witcher.”