"You guys are behind!" Joel Kinnaman teases.
From his vantage point, we are. While the first of the "Snabba Cash" films (called "Easy Money" in English-speaking markets) comes out this week in the U.S., Sweden has already celebrated the first installment, giving the film three Guldbagges (the country's equivalent of an Oscar), including a win for Kinnaman for Best Actor, and moved on to the second, "Snabba Cash II," which comes out August 17th abroad.
But from a business standpoint, the U.S. is already caught up, considering that a little feat that the crime drama pulled at the Swedish box office which caught the eye of more than a few Hollywood producers: it took away the number one slot from "Avatar" for two weeks in January, 2010. Market screenings the next month at the Berlin Film Festival increased the heat, and by the Toronto International Film Festival, the U.S. distribution rights were sold to the Weinsteins, a remake was in the works with Warner Bros. and "The Dark Knight" producer Charles Roven (with Zac Efron as the lead), and director Daniel Espinosa was well on his way to making deals for English-language films, eventually scoring "Safe House." Kinnaman, however, had already moved back to the U.S. in anticipation of the attention (he's Swedish-American and grew up bilingual) and landed the male lead in the AMC series "The Killing." "Snabba Cash" becoming a sensation made him an even hotter property. (To learn why, read our review here.)
"The film is so important to me," Kinnaman told the Playlist. "When we did the first one, we were a group of friends who hung out a lot and we came together to do a film. And now we're best friends with some of the new people who came aboard. We're very much our own community, and it was a big help for my career over here and for Daniel. It's a movie we love very much."
Espinosa elected not to direct "Snabba Cash II'; Babak Najafi (who won Best Debut film at Berlin for "Sebbe" in 2010 as well) takes the helm for the second installment, and Jens Assur for the third. (Espinosa stayed on as an executive producer.) Where "Snabba Cash" was adapted directly from Jen Lapidus' novel, the second movie is not from the second book of the Stockholm Noir trilogy, but an original story, taking place three years after the events of the first film. Kinnaman's character JW is serving a four-year prison sentence, but when Mrado Slovovic (played by Dragomir Mrsic) comes back into his life and is none too pleased that JW put him in a wheelchair, he needs to find a way out. Luckily for JW, the Swedish penal system has an unsupervised leave program.