Norway, Lithuania and Finland are the next territories set to host remakes of Latvia’s 2016 box-office success Swingers.
The production company Platforma made Estonian and Ukrainian versions of the comedy this year.
Speaking to Screen at this week’s Baltic Event, Platforma Filma’s Kristians Alhimionoks, who was a Screen Future Leader in Cannes in 2014, said that his company has a Norwegian production company identified as a partner to adapt the mini-franchise for Norway and will shoot in 2018. A script for a Lithuanian remake is already in place, and talks are now underway with a Finnish production company to be partner on the Finnish outing.
Moreover, the Norwegian partner has signalled that it would like the original film’s director Andrejs Ekis to direct its version, as he also did on the Estonian and Ukrainian remakes.
The original film was released a year ago by Forum Cinemas and became the third most watched film in Latvia with 110,000 admissions, no mean feat for a country with a population of 1.9 million.
The success story continued when the Apollo Cinemas’ distribution arm Estonian Film Distribution released the local Estonian remake this November - the film has already been seen by 62,000 cinema-goers in the first two weeks up to last Monday (Nov 27), in a country with a population of 1.3 million.
The Ukrainian version - which was co-produced with F Films - will be released by Ukrainian Film Distribution on January 1, 2018.
The Estonian and Ukrainian remakes - with budgets between €200,000 and €250,000 each - were made back-to-back by director Ekis last summer with interiors of apartments shot in Riga and a couple of days’ location work in Estonia and Ukraine.
¨The idea of the remakes was quite simple,¨ Alhimionoks explained. ”In Estonia, we went to the distributor and casting director and said that we need the best actors and biggest names. The same was in Ukraine where we also had two pop stars in the cast, one has 10 million followers and the other was a Playboy Playmate!¨
¨When we pitched the film’s storyline of relationships and swinging to the adapter in Estonia, they said that we are chauvinists,¨ he added. ¨But, in the end, they didn’t change anything. I believe that the structure is so well made that nothing was changed in Estonia or Ukraine except for some dialogue to make them more local .¨
Meanwhile, Platforma Filma is in post-production on its biggest project so far, the €3m English-language historical drama The Pagan King, which has already had its German rights bought by distributor Ascot Elite Entertainment.
The €3m historical action drama starring James Bloor (Dunkirk) and Edvin Endre (Vikings) sees the company collaborating again with director Aigars Grauba who had previously delivered two local blockbusters - Defenders Of Riga and Dream Team 1935.
The Pagan King will be released by Latvian Theatrical Distribution locally on January 17.
French distribution in place for Revnost
French distributor Arizona Films Distribution has already committed to release Nigina Sayfullaeva’s Revnost, which was presented at Tallinn Black Nights’ Baltic Event Co-Production Market this week by Russian producer Pavel Odynin.
Odynin was selected as one of Screen’s Future Leaders in Cannes in 2015. Arizona Production’s Guillaume de Seille is onboard as co-producer and backing is already in place from the Russian Ministry of Culture and the private Russian TV3 channel.
Following her award-winning 2014 debut Name Me, Sayfullaeva’s second feature explores questions of sexuality and adultery and overcoming ¨Soviet¨ mental taboos.
¨We decided on the Baltic Event as the first market because, for me as a Russian producer, it is the closest mentally,¨ Odynin explained. ¨I feel that there has been a real focus on Russia here in recent years and a desire to have more co-productions between the Baltic states and Russia.¨