million bucks for

CHRISTMAS HIT: “Three Nuts for Cinderella”, with Astrid Smeplass in the title role and Cengiz Al in the role of Prince Charming.

Last year’s most popular Norwegian cinema film was suddenly 18 million kroner poorer as the pandemic forced the production to relocate. The overall budget for the film has grown by over 30 percent.


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“Three Nuts for Cinderella” was recently one of the highest-grossing Norwegian films of all time, despite the pandemic restrictions.

However, the production encountered challenges that few could have foreseen when it was announced in early 2019 that Cecilie Mosli would be directing a new and Norwegian version of the popular Czech-German film.

At the time, the film’s producers, Storm Films, had a total budget for the project of just over NOK 38 million, a sum that has also featured regularly in the film’s recent reviews.

However, the budget has cost several million, according to documents recently released by the Norwegian Film Institute (NFI) and the Ministry of Culture.

THE ORIGINAL: Libuse Safránkova in the 1973 Cinderella film. The actor died in June 2021 at the age of 68. The Norwegian version of the film was set to be shot in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, while the original film was shot primarily in a studio outside of Berlin.

“Three Nuts for Cinderella” is far from finished as a retail item. The Norwegian market was largely captured before Christmas, but here too sales, distribution and TV viewing of the film are ahead of that. A start abroad is planned for February.

NFI tells VG that they have approved a total budget for the film of NOK 49.7 million as of November 18, 2021, i.e. well over 11 million over the original budget.

Storm Films tells VG that the budget is now over 50 million.

– You can say that it has passed 50, yes, says Petter Borgli, producer at Storm.

– When we made the decision to move, there were consequences.

Millions vaporized

Originally, Storm Films had co-financed the film through government incentive schemes in Eastern Europe in exchange for it being shot in its entirety there.

Státní Fond Kinematografie in the Czech Republic provided 1 million CZK, while the Slovak FilmCommission in Slovakia put 6.93 million on the table. A significant part of the follow-up should also take place in these countries.

Then came the pandemic.

“Confirmed that the production insurance of Three Nuts for Cinderella does not cover any damage related to Covid-19,” said a January 2021 letter from insurance company Lyberg, which is attached to the NFI documents.

These also show that Storm Films suddenly found itself with a financial shortfall of almost half of the film’s original budget: NOK 18 million.

Eight million in incentive programs that have disappeared and another ten million in increased production costs as a result of shifting recording to Norway.

According to Storm Film’s communication to NFI, this resulted in a variety of changes:

Foreign personnel had to be replaced by Norwegians. The production site had to be relocated to Lillehammer. Significantly higher costs for accommodation and travel had to be borne.

The latter was retained as a filming location for parts of the film, particularly the castle scenes. It provided 4.4 million for funding from the Lithuanian Spend Incentive.

– Would have probably been shut down

The lost funding millions from Slovakia and the Czech Republic were largely covered by NFI’s Corona crisis program Production 2.

Of this, the Cinderella project received 7.6 million. Extremely necessary, says Frederick Howard, the other producer at Storm Films.

– Without Production 2, the film would probably have been shelved, he says.

– The program made it possible to mark the project as a home country when the borders in Europe were closed and European funding disappeared. This has saved many jobs through the pandemic.

CELEBRATING THE FILM: Astrid Smeplass and Cengiz Al at the Three Nuts for Cinderella premiere party in early November.

But there were still ten million to cover.

– We used our own money and then we got the dealers to top up a bit and a little bit different funding, says Petter Borgli in Storm.

– Among other things, we have received regional funding. There were many different sources that put it together.

According to Borgli, Storm was lucky that the project they had to refinance was of the salable variety.

NFI’s filing notes, among other things, that Astrid Smeplass, as the lead actress, gave the film an unprecedented media footprint.

– Cinderella is a brand that is of great interest, according to the manufacturer.

Just a Christmas chance

Now, two months after its premiere, nearly 600,000 people have seen the film in theaters. A strong number for most films on the Norwegian market.

According to NRK However, it was estimated that between 900,000 and a million would make their way to the hall.

Storm Films declined to comment on the estimate.

At the same time, there is little doubt that a re-recorded version of Norway’s most popular “Christmas film” was damaged by the fact that Norway was once again under corona shutdown in mid-December, with severe restrictions in cinemas as well.

– The numbers have dropped significantly, but actually less than feared, says Borgli.

– We don’t know what it would be like without the infection situation, it can only be predicted. But we sold about as much week-in-week as any other film that hit theaters together. So it was a hit.

Borgli believes that the opportunity to get a Christmas hit in the cinema comes only once.

Consequently, he does not envisage any new investment in “Three Nuts for Cinderella” in a possible normal cinema Christmas 2022.

– What we haven’t gotten now, we won’t get back next Christmas. Then there will be other Christmas films.

The film industry will remain hard hit by Corona for the time being. In mid-December, Storm announced that their planned next major film project, The Saga of Saint Olav, would be cancelled.

– From now on I would say that it is revealed, says Borgli.

– We still want to get it back on its feet, but we weren’t where we were supposed to be with the funding.

17.3 million in “Premium”

The financing of “Three Nuts for Cinderella”, however, continues.

Storm Films recently received an additional $17.3 million for the film from NFI in a so-called post-grant.

According to NFI, the program rewards good results and offers grants for films that pass 35,000 admissions.

The regulation is particularly lucrative for children’s films such as “Three Nuts for Cinderella”. It awards the producer a grant equal to twice what is sold through the distribution and viewing rights to the film.

DIRECTOR: Cecilie Mosli directed the new Cinderella movie, here flanked by Astrid Smeplass and Cengiz Al.

Storm Films does not want to comment on whether “Three Nuts for Cinderella” has now broken even and has become a profit-making project.

– We have to come back to that, says Petter Borgli.

– But to put it this way, we are very satisfied and think we shouldn’t complain.

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