News: Intrigo: Death of an Author starring Ben Kingsley, first entry in the Intrigo Trilogy, opens today.

A trilogy of films based on an anthology of thriller novels by a best-selling Swedish author? You don’t have to be a Girl with a Dragon Tattoo to remember that it worked before with Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, which over the course of decade inspired a trio of Swedish films, an extended adapation of the film for TV and a pair of Hollywood-produced efforts.

Now here comes the The Intrigo Trilogy, three films adapted from a collection of novellas by one of Sweden’s leading crime writers, Hakan Nesser, whose books have been translated into more than 30 languages and sold some 20 million copies around the world.

The films are Intrigo: Death of an Author, Intrigo: Dear Agnes and Intrigo: Samaria, directed by Daniel Alfredson and co-produced by Rick Dugdale of Enderby Entertainment. The three English language films were shot back-to-back over a period of six months beginning in May, 2017 following a four-month pre-production schedule.

Ben Kingsley and Benno Fürmann in Intrigo: Death of an Author.

Filmmaker Alfredson’s experience directing novel-born crime thriller dates back to 2009 when he helmed two films adapted from Larsson’s Millennium TrilogyThe Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. He is quick to acknowledges that shooting three films consecutively on the same schedule is no small task, particularly when each of the three films features different characters and storylines.

“Yes, you get a little tired from time to time—it can be exhausting moving from one story to another when all you really want to do at times is go to the editing suite and discuss everything you’ve been shooting,” says Alfredson. “But we had a good schedule, an organized schedule, and I felt very good with the material we had.”

The idea for the three-film project dates back to 2014 when Alfredson and co-screenwriter Birgitta Bongenhielm contacted author Nesser to receive his blessing and consult with him on the adaptation of three of the five novellas in his Intrigo anthology.

A year later, three scripts in hand, they approached producer Rick Dugdale in Serbia, where he was producing another film, to gauge his interest. Alfredson had previously collaborated with Alfredson on the 2015 thriller Blackway starring Anthony Hopkins, Ray Liotta and Julia Stiles.

He was passed the trio of scripts to read on a Sunday morning in Belgrade. “And for the first time ever, I managed to read the scripts right then and I called Alfredson back to say, ‘I think you should come to Serbia.’”

Filmmaker Daniel Alfredson

The three films are linked by a similar narrative structure and Nesser’s usual themes of secrets, lies and past transgressions being exposed, along with all of them being set in Maardam, a fictional region situated somewhere in Northern Europe. Maardam goes back to author Nesser’s first novel, 1993’s The Mind’s Eye, and, as described, it’s a hybrid of Sweden, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands. The mythical land came to life on the screen over the course of a shoot that traversed continental Europe.

“Maardam…you have to sort of create Maardam,” says Alfredson. “So we had locations in Serbia, and in Croatia, in Slovenia, and also needed some other stuff that we found in Belgium. We were moving between these countries quite a lot I must say.”

If nothing else, the challenges that come with filming a trio of thrillers across a continent only strengthened the international production’s sense of collaboration and unity. And all this after selling the three-film idea to financiers and distributors and arranging an appropriate economic and organizational structure.

“I think we had 345 crew members and five countries that we shot in. I think it was six languages, six currencies, and different time zones,” says Dugdale. “But it was such a united group in everything, from pre-production to production to even the 15 months of post-production in Sweden. We were very much a united team and that’s something I’ve never seen before.”

“You can only pull this off if everybody comes together with the whole plan and I think we’ve accomplished that,” he says.

The trilogy’s first entry, Death of an Author starring Ben Kingsley along with Sweden’s Benno Fürmann and Tuva Novotny, opens today in select theaters and On Demand from Lionsgate.

The second two films, Intrigo: Dear Agnes and Intrigo: Samaria, are targeted for release later this year.

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.