Nordic streamer Viaplay is partnering with filmmaker Mikael Håfström to produce the ambitious period film “Stockholm Bloodbath.” The female-led epic adventure movie will mark the service’s second English-language film original, following Oscar-nominated helmer Lasse Hallström’s biopic “Hilma,” which will premiere later this year.
Set in 1520, “Stockholm Bloodbath” explores a dark chapter in Sweden’s history, which saw the infamous massacre of nearly 100 nobles and civilians in the Swedish capital. The story is told through the eyes of Anne and her foster sister Freja as they seek revenge on the men who murdered their family at Anne’s wedding. Their quest leads them to Stockholm, where they are drawn into a ruthless political power struggle between Sweden and Denmark that culminates in a mass execution known to history as the Stockholm Bloodbath.
“It was a game changer in Sweden, and the country has been at Norway and Denmark, there’s been a lot of wars between the Nordics throughout the centuries,” said Håfström. “American and British are better at writing their own history but at the same time it’s not a history lesson,” he added.
The movie, which has been described as being in the same vein as “The Favourite,” Gladiator” and “Game of Thrones,” is part of Viaplay’s mandate to produce two major English-language films every year about Nordic events and figures. Erlend Loe (“Quick”) penned the script with Nora Landsrød.
“It feels great to work with Viaplay to bring such dramatic events to the screen,” said Håfström, whose credits include the Oscar-nominated “Evil,” the Stephen King adaptation “1408” with John Cusack, “Escape Plan,” starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger and the award-winning film “Quick.” He said the streaming company has created a “very friendly and open environment for creatives.”
The helmer said Loe has written a “page-turning script that is the perfect foundation for a female-driven, stylish and razor-sharp tale of revenge set against the bloody backdrop of 1520s Stockholm.” He added that the movie will be “edgy, darkly humorous, bold, with a profound emotional core.”
Håfström said that casting is underway and will include a mix of Nordic and international stars. “We have fantastic actors who have made a name for themselves in English-language movies,” said the helmer, who is currently directing the Hollywood sci-fi thriller “Slingshot” starring Casey Affleck, Laurence Fishburne and Emily Beecham.
“Stockholm Bloodbath” is expected to begin filming in autumn 2022 and will premiere exclusively on Viaplay in 2023. Viaplay Studios is producing the film, while Nordisk Film is co-producing.
“Our commitment to sharing Nordic stories with the world is both ambitious and unprecedented,” said Filippa Wallestam, exec VP and chief content officer of Viaplay parent Nordic Entertainment Group.
“The Stockholm Bloodbath shaped the destiny of our region, and Viaplay viewers can look forward to an epic and also deeply human film,” said Wallestam, who compared the film with “Hilma” because it’s also a personal project for Wallestam and all the major talents involved. Helena Danielsson (“Hilma”) produces for Viaplay Studios. The film is co-produced by Lone Korslund for Nordisk Film.