'Arn: The Knight Templar' Budgetary Controversy

Arn the Knight Templar series and movies Joakim Nätterqvist'Arn: The Knight Templar' series and two-part feature face budgetary woes (image: Joakim Nätterqvist in 'Arn: The Knight Templar')

The Knight Templars are at it again. First, the brouhaha was about heresy (remember that Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code was banned in several countries); now it's about the more mundane matter of money – or lack thereof. Exit Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou; enter Arn Magnusson, the Swedish Christian Crusader of Arn: the Knight Templar.

Budgeted at more than US$30 million, Arn: the Knight Templar / Arn: Tempelriddaren is reportedly the most expensive movie ever made in Scandinavia. The European mega-production became mired in controversy after August 13, 2007, when Swedish public broadcaster SVT announced that it was withdrawing its support from the project, which is currently in the editing phase.

As reported by Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Gunnar Carlsson, SVT's head of Drama, wrote in an official statement published in the Swedish media: “Unfortunately, SF [Svensk Filmindustri] has not been able to deliver the contents according to the original contract. In addition, the filmed material doesn't have the quality that we were expecting. Therefore, we are forced to put at end to our collaboration with SF.”

Arn: the Knight Templar's financing came from Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, British, and German partners, but Sweden's Svensk Filmindustri is the film's chief producer.

'Arn: The Knight Templar' international cast

Directed by Danish filmmaker Peter Flinth and adapted for the screen by Hans Gunnarsson, Arn: the Knight Templar is based on bestselling novelist Jan Guillou's trilogy about the (fictional) mid-12th century Swedish crusader Arn Magnusson (newcomer Joakim Nätterqvist), a monk-to-be who is sent to the Holy Land to fight the Saracens.

Arn: the Knight Templar is supposed to be screened in two parts. Later on, the feature will be reformatted as a mini-series for Swedish television. The film's international cast includes Stellan Skarsgård, Vincent Perez, Simon Callow, Sofia Helin, Michael Nyqvist, Mirja Turestedt, Morgan Alling, Sven-Bertil Taube, Stellan's son Gustaf Skarsgård, Nicholas Boulton, Alex Wyndham, and veteran Bibi Andersson (Wild Strawberries, Persona).

TV 4 comes to the rescue

October 2013 update: TV4, owned by The Bonnier Group (which also owns Svensk Filmindustri), came to the rescue of the beleaguered Arn: The Knight Templar. The two-part film had part one released on Christmas Day 2007, and part two, Arn: The Kingdom at Road's End / Arn: Riket vid vägens slut, in August 2008. In six episodes, the TV mini-series Arn: The Knight Templar was aired on Swedish television in March 2010.

According to figures found on the website The Numbers, Arn: The Knight Templar grossed $14.9 million, while Arn: The Kingdom at Road's End took in $6.99 million. Note: The Numbers doesn't specify the source(s) for those figures.

Joakim Nätterqvist Arn: The Knight Templar photo: Svensk Filmindustri.

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