Scanbox CEO Thor Sigurjonsson On How Joining The Vuelta Group Will Position The Company To Win In The Nordics And Beyond: “There’s Room To Shake Things Up”

EXCLUSIVE: Deadline spoke to Nordic distributor Scanbox about why it made sense to join new European film and TV studio Vuelta Group, which we revealed earlier this morning.

Established in 1980, Copenhagen-based Scanbox has a catalog of more than 1,000 titles, including acclaimed international and Danish films. It also has offices in Reykjavik, Oslo and Stockholm.

The company was founded by legendary Icelandic producer Joni Sighvatsson, who in the ’80s set up leading music video company Propaganda Films with Steve Golin, where they worked with directors including David Fincher, Michael Bay and Spike Jonze. Scanbox is now run by Joni’s son Thor.

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The outfit has been ramping up its acquisitions and productions in recent months and recently pre-bought Jason Statham starrer The Beekeeper, big-budget Sylvester Stallone reboot Cliffhanger and Vin Diesel sequel Riddick: Furya. This is in addition to Cannes competition films May December and Ken Loach’s The Old Oak, as well as A24’s Sundance hit Past Lives.

We spoke with Scanbox CEO Thor Sigurjonsson about the deal to join Vuelta Group.

DEADLINE: Why did this make sense for Scanbox now?

THOR SIGURJONSSON: What got us really excited was being part of a European group. I know most of the people involved in the project and I like the team. I thought it was a no brainer to be part of a bigger group but also to be autonomous. We have been starting to ramp up our production business. We recently integrated our Icelandic production company Zik Zak Filmworks, the company behind the Icelandic remake of Perfect Strangers, the country’s highest grossing local film, and we acquired post-production company Supersonic as well as Danish production company Motor.

To be part of something with sales and co-production capability was important. We weren’t planning to sell but Jerome found me and things moved quite quickly because we liked the idea and the people.

Last year we hired Lone Korslund from Nordisk Film to become creative director of Scanbox Productions. So we’ve been moving towards production.

DEADLINE: How lucrative was this deal for you between five and ten million?

SIGURJONSSON: It was a little over ten. We felt it was the right valuation for us. We spoke the same language.

DEADLINE: How does this place Scanbox in the Nordic region now?

SIGURJONSSON: It gives us more muscle on production and acquisitions. On the pre-sale side it really helps us. Knowing that international distribution is in flux, this allows us to move faster and to mix the international with the local.

DEADLINE: How much will be film and how much TV?

SIGURJONSSON: Film is our major focus. But we’ve just done a TV series called Balls (Afturelding) in Iceland. It’s kind of a dark Ted Lasso based on handball. It was our second series between Zik Zak and Scanbox. TV is definitely part of the puzzle too.

DEADLINE: Will you be looking to work more in English language?

SIGURJONSSON: We’re going for bigger acquisitions. We pre-bought Cliffhanger in Cannes. That has an $80M budget. We bought The Beekeeper last year. We want to be buying at least a couple of tentpoles a year. We were more in the high-end arthouse market before: Ruben Ostlund, the Almodovars and Ken Loach films. We remain in that market but we feel that market hasn’t recovered well after Covid so we need to move into some bigger tentpoles too.

On the production side, we’ve been thinking about all the talent and directors here in Scandinavia and how we can move into the space of the $10-12M genre movies with those creatives and talent.

DEADLINE: How will the greenlight process work for you within the Vuelta family?

SIGURJONSSON: At markets we will exchange information but I think it will remain quite silod. It will remain quite autonomous and we’ll operate in our own territories but there will also be acquisitions for the Vuelta group. We can put up a good number against foreign.

DEADLINE: Will you be growing your headcount?

SIGURJONSSON: Yes, we just added Rikke Sasja Lassen on the production side in May. We won’t add much but we’ll grow a little. In Scandinavia, Nordic Film and SF Studios are the two biggest players. We’re looking to come in and cement ourselves as the third player in the market. There’s room to shake things up a bit in this market.

DEADLINE: To what extent do you see industrial action in the U.S. impacting your business?

SIGURJONSSON: We have an output deal with Studiocanal so that helps. We are good in terms of our lineup but if the strike lasts beyond September things will get difficult.

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