Variety: Beta Film Boards Nordic Thriller ‘Helsinki Syndrome’ Starring ‘Vikings’ Peter Franzén (EXCLUSIVE)
By John Hopewell
Jan Mojto's Munich-based production-distribution company Beta Film has boarded Nordic suspense thriller "Helsinki Syndrome," the first common project with Finland's Fisher King since Beta took a majority stake in the leading Finnish production company in 2019.
Coinciding with the Fisher King deal, Beta launched the Sweden-based Beta Nordic Studios (BNS), a umbrella hub grouping its production interests in the Nordic region.
BNS aims to leverage Beta Film's international expertise and distribution muscle to deliver high-end local content with global potential from its members.
Minimum guarantees that Beta Film puts up against future distribution revenues also allow producers to make series at the budgetary level of their artistic ambitions rather than that of local financing available, helping the shows to become standout titles from their territory.
Scheduled to go into production in June 2021, "Helsinki Syndrome" is created for Finnish public broadcaster YLE by Mikko Oikkonen, whose pioneering Finnish Noir series "Bordertown" has had its first three seasons screened on Netflix. The new series will be directed by Juuso Syrjä, who helmed episodes of "Bordertown."
A modern-day thriller anticipating the forthcoming financial crises sparked by COVID-19, "Helsinki Syndrome" stars leading Finnish actor Peter Franzén, best known for his role as King Harald Finehair in History's "Vikings" series, as Elias Karo, who takes four journalists hostage at the offices of Helsinki's biggest newspaper.
His desperate ploy is to force them to expose two bank officials and a district court judge who have destroyed the reputation and wealth of his family, prompting his father's suicide.
The eight-part drama series examines "the relation of power and individuals" via "lively believable characters," Beta Film said in a statement.
"Helsinki Syndrome" also achieves larger social depth flashing back to Finland's 1990s banking crisis and placing the bankers and court judge's machinations in a far larger social context.
"I'm super happy about the collaboration with Beta Film, that I know well from the feature film times. Now when FK is a part of the Beta Nordic Studio, it's great to have project together," said Fisher King CEO Matti Halonen.
He added: "Beta has been really interested in 'Helsinki Syndrome' from an early stage and they have given a strong international point of view to the project."
Justus Riesenkampff, director of Beta Nordic Studios, called Helsinki Syndrome "a strong contemporary thriller that will be attractive for buyers worldwide."
Unveiled at 2019's Mipcom, Beta Nordic Studios at that time took in Fisher King and Sweden's Dramacorp, a joint venture set up in 2016 with Swedish-French executive Patrick Nebout whose credits include "Midnight Sun," action thriller "Agent Hamilton" and now hit YA horror series "Cryptid."
In 2020, BNS took a 25% stake in Iceland's Sagafilm, producer of the Cineflix-repped series "The Minister" as well as suspense mystery drama "The Flatey Enigma" and flamboyant female lawyer sleuth saga "Stella Blómkvist."
At this March's Berlinale Series Market, Beta Nordic Studios announced it had acquired a majority stake in Norway's Cinenord, one of the most ambitious of Norwegian production houses.
Cinenord's recent credits include the Beta Film distributed "Atlantic Crossing," with Sofia Helin and Kyle MacLachlan, is proving one of the best selling of 2020 Canneseries competition title; and detective series "Wisting," starring "The Matrix" actress Carrie-Anne Moss.