Sweden is known for its blonde supermodels, disco pop-stars and inexpensive furniture that's nearly impossible to put together. Sure, Ingmar Bergman made celluloid history, but Swedish films making big money in America? Not yet. But Hollywood's betting they're about to.
American studios see gold in Scandinavia and have just adapted two visionary Swedish films. The first is Let the Right One In, Sweden's answer to the latest vampire craze. Directed by Tomas Alfredson, the 2008 film wove a stark, snowy and terrifying tale of a meek 12-year-old boy bullied at school and ignored at home by his divorcing mother. When he meets a strange girl in his apartment courtyard watched over by a silent, strange old man, his life changes forever—and corpses pile up in their small town.
In October, audiences were spooked by the American remake, Let Me In, which was helmed by Cloverfield director Matt Reeves. Set in Los Alamos, New Mexico, this retooled dark drama stars two of the most promising child actors, Kodi Smit-McPhee from the post-apocalyptic film The Road, and Chloë Moretz, Kick-Ass' Hit-Girl, who again proves she's one preteen who's not afraid of a little blood. To have fangs, this remake had to transfer the empty isolation of rural Sweden 5000 miles east to a town most famous for hosting nuclear tests. Gorgeous, sad and cruel, it's one to watch when Oscar talk heats up.
Meanwhile, the books of Swedish author Stieg Larsson are burning up the bestseller lists, and last year they inspired their first flick. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a critical and commercial success across the world—another Svenska film that focused attention on the land of reindeer and saunas. (In a twist that could have sprung from his novels, Larsson died before his books became megahits, leaving his kin squabbling over his estate.) This first dark thriller from Larsson's Millennium Trilogy tracks disgraced investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and his partner Lisbeth Salander, a leather-wearing, multi-pierced computer-hacking genius. Their task? To research the disappearance of an heiress whose sinister family may have had her killed.
That's the type of wicked tale David Fincher loves to spin, and the director of Se7en, Fight Club and Zodiac was the natural pick to take over the American remake, due in theaters Christmas 2011. Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and George Clooney begged for the Blomkvist role, but the Nordic blonde Bond for the job was Daniel Craig, who specializes in virtuous-but-flawed hunters. Rumor is Natalie Portman, Carey Mulligan and Scarlet Johansson brawled to play Lisbeth, but athletic it-girl Rooney Mara (Nightmare on Elm Street, Fincher's latest The Social Network) will put on the chains and heavy eyeliner to glower at the camera. But unlike Let Me In, this ice-cold adaptation will stay in Sweden—and with three potential films in the Millennium Trilogy, the Arctic Circle is Hollywood's new bullseye.
SWEDISH FUN FACTS:
Population: 9.6 Million
Size: 174,000 square miles, making it Europe's fifth-largest country after Russia, Ukraine, France and Spain
Most famous exports: Greta Garbo, ABBA, Dolph Lundgren, IKEA, Stellan Skarsgård, H&M, Volvo
One of the world's largest consumers of coffee
The birthplace of the refrigerator, the zipper and the computer mouse
Hire Homer! Sweden has the world's highest per capita number of nuclear power plants
Large herds of reindeer like the ones pulling Santa's sleigh roam freely in the upper regions of Sweden's Lapland region
Swedish chef Lars "Kuprik" Bäckman claims to have inspired the Muppets character after bombing a live demonstration on Good Morning America
On Easter, Swedish children dress up like witches and trick or treat