Stella Blómkvist reshuffles Nordic noir
by Vassilis Economou
- Already taking Iceland by storm, the original crime-drama aims to export a new, stylised noir that deviates from what international viewers expect from the region
The original Icelandic crime-drama Stella Blómkvist has already racked up some impressive figures in its home country. Breaking all previous viewership records, the series received more than 150,000 views in its first week of release on the local SVoD service Símans Premium. It is reported that 54% of Icelandic households are subscribed to this premium streaming platform, while the country’s population is roughly 335,000.
Starring Icelandic rising star Heida Reed, known from the historical BBC series Poldark, Stella Blómkvist, which is characterised by being a glossy and not-at-all Scandi noir, follows the titular character, a femme fatale and hard-nosed lawyer with explosive sexuality and an even darker past, who, after investigating some shady murder and blackmailing cases, dives into the murky waters of a deeply corrupt government, leading her to the highest levels of Iceland’s political establishment.
The first season, which unfolds through six episodes, was produced by Iceland’s Sagafilm, co-developed by Red Arrow International, which also handles the international sales, and directed by Óskar Thór Axelsson, already well known for his successful series Trapped. The screenplay, developed by Trapped’s co-writer, head scriptwriter Johann Ævar Grimsson, along with Nanna Kristín Magnúsdóttir and Andri Óttarsson, is based on the novel The Murder in the Ministry by a pseudonymous novelist also named Stella Blómkvist. There are seven more books by the same author, and Sagafilm is planning to adapt them if the first season continues to perform well, creating a new franchise in the seemingly crowded Nordic noir market, which has a clear need for similar alternatives.
The staggering initial ratings of the first season clearly set the bar quite high in terms of the series being able to expand its audience. Starting with the Scandinavian market, Stella Blómkvist has been added to the original Viaplay and Viasat Series portfolio and will be screened across the region at the beginning of 2018. Furthermore, Grímsson is one of the five Nordic writers nominated for the Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize that will be handed out at the TV Drama Vision conference at the Göteborg Film Festival on 31 January. Finally, it has already been confirmed that Stella Blómkvist will be available in the Dutch market by the end of February.
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