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PRODUCTION Norway

Paradox to revive and renew The Olsen Gang franchise

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- Fifty years after Knut Bohwim’s comedy saga first hit the cinemas, his colleague Arild Østin Ommundsen will be ready with a new premiere

Paradox to revive and renew The Olsen Gang franchise
Director Arild Østin Ommundsen

The Olsen Gang, which spawned one of Norway’s most popular film series – totalling 14 movies between 1969 and 1999 – will return 50 years after Norwegian director Knut Bohwim launched film number one. Oslo’s Paradox Films has signed up his colleague Arild Østin Ommundsen to direct The Olsen Gang: A Spectacular Haul, a €4 million project that will shoot next year for a 2019 premiere.

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The Olsen Gang is an amazing series that has made several generations of Norwegians happy – the stories and characters deserve to live longer. So we have decided to make a reboot, giving The Olsen Gang a new start amidst the plots of today,” Paradox producer Finn Gjerdrum told Norway’s Dagsavisen.

Paradox, which staged Norwegian director Erik Poppe’s The King’s Choice [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Erik Poppe
film profile
]
 – a film that reached number one in the 2016 charts and was nominated for a record number of 12 Amandas, Norway’s national film prize – has asked The King’s Choice co-writer Jan Trygve Røyneland and Linn-Jeanethe Kyed (Børning 1 [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and Børning 2 [+see also:
trailer
interview: Hallvard Bræin
film profile
]
) to deliver the first screenplay and prepare for more.

After Ommundsen made his feature debut, 2001’s Mongoland, he went on to direct the award-winning It’s Only Make Believe (2013) and, most recently, Now It’s Dark, which will open in October. Bohwim’s original series was followed by The Junior Olsen Gang, six features made by Arne Lindtner Næss between 2003 and 2010. 

The (non-violent) Olsen Gang was originally Danish, created and written by Erik Balling and Henning Bahs for Danish major Nordisk Film; Balling directed and Bahs was production designer on the first 13 instalments (Tom Hedegaard and Morten Arnfred directed the 14th), about habitual criminal genius Egon Olsen and his accomplices, Benny and Kjeld. Three of the movies still occupy spots one to three on the all-time top list of local cinema admissions, having sold between 1 and 1.2 million tickets. 

Bohwim “norsified” the original scripts, introducing Norwegian characters such as Dynamite Harry; also, the Swedish Jönsson Gang followed the formula of the Danish originals, which were extremely popular in the former East Germany and Eastern Europe (where Die Olsenbande passed censorship because it was considered to be making fun of the capitalist authorities).

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