EXCLUSIVE: Norwegian helmers Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, whose film Kon-Tiki was Oscar nominated today for Best Foreign Language Film, are near a deal to make their first big splashy Hollywood helming deal. They are signing a 7-figure pact to direct Spectral for Legendary Pictures. The script, based on a treatment by Ian Fried and with a most recent script draft by Jayson Rothwell, is described as a supernatural Black Hawk Down and it is viewed as a potential franchise.
Roenning and Sandberg have been meeting with and being offered projects by studios since Kon-Tiki began playing in Norway and then made its festival debut at Toronto in September. The film tells the harrowing tale of Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 journey, drifting 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean on a balsa raft with a small crew to Polynesia to prove South Americans were its original settlers. Shot on the high seas for $15 million (making it the most expensive Norwegian film ever), Kon-Tiki looks like it was significantly more expensive, showing the potential of directors who can get bang for their buck on logistically complicated studio-level action adventure fare.
The duo comes from the world of commercials–they helmed the Budweiser Super Bowl spot Rex’s Bad Day about a movie star pooch looking for motivation–they made their debut on the Norwegian hit Max Manus. Kon-Tiki was acquired by The Weinstein Company, which is expected to release the film in the U.S. in March. They also directed Bandidas for EuropaCorp.
Spectral is expected to get underway later this year. Legendary’s Jillian Zaks and Alex Hedlund are overseeing it.
Legendary begins production in March on Godzilla, and has Pacific Rim coming as well as Superman (Man of Steel), Seventh Son and The Hangover Part III releasing this year, all with Warner Bros.
Rønning and Sandberg are repped by UTA, Brillstein’s David McIlvain and attorney Warren Dern. Here is the trailer for Kon-Tiki: