Cannes: Norwegian Oil Thriller 'Pioneer' Sells Wide

4:07 AM PST 05/23/2013 by Scott Roxborough
Magnolia picked up U.S. rights to the 1980s-set thriller at the European Film Market in Berlin.

TrustNordisk closes deals in the U.K., Japan, Korea and Benelux for Erik Skjoldbaerg's new feature.

Following the international success of Headhunter, Norway might have a second hit thriller on its hands as Cannes buyers pounce on Erik Skjoldbaerg's Pioneer.

TrustNordisk racked up a pack of international deals for the title, which screened as a work in progress at the Marche, signing agreements with Arrow Films in the U.K., Lumiere in Benelux, Focus & Company for South Korea and Japan's Nettai Museum.

Magnolia, whose U.S. release of Headhunter grossed $1.2 million, picked up Pioneer in Berlin on the basis of a promo reel.

Headhunter star Aksel Hennie plays the lead in Pioneer as Petter, a professional diver working for the oil companies in the early 1980s, when huge oil and gas deposits are discovered in the North Sea off the Norwegian coast, kicking off an oil rush. He is obsessed with becoming the first man to reach the bottom of the Norwegian Sea, more than 1,600 feet deep. But a tragic accident changes everything and Petter is sent off on a perilous journey where his life itself is at stake.

The film also stars Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games), Stephen Lang (Avatar) and Jonathan LaPaglia (Cold Case).

Director Erik Skjoldbaerg had his international breakthrough with the Arctic thriller Insomnia (1997), remade for the U.S. in 2002 by Christopher Nolan. Skjoldbaerg's English-language debut was Prozac Nation (2001) with Christina Ricci and Anne Heche.

Pioneer is produced by Headhunters producer Christian Fredrik Martin of Friland Film with Germany's Pandora, Garagefilm International and Film i Väst, of Sweden, France's Les Films d'Antoine, Finland's MRP and pan-Scandinavian group Nordisk Film as co-producers on the $8.4 million (€6.5 million) feature.

Nordisk will release Pioneer across Scandinavia in September. TrustNordisk is handling international sales.

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