What are the ingredients for a successful international production? Start with well-known source material: a famed trilogy of books by a controversial author. Next, cast good actors known to world cinema fans: Stellan Skarsgård (Breaking the Waves), Mads Mikkelsen (After the Wedding), Vincent Perez (Queen Margot), Bibi Andersson (Persona), Simon Callow (A Room with a View), Michael Nyqvist (Next Door). Then get a director (Peter Flinth) who was once an intern on Ron Howard's Far and Away but has now won a few awards for his work. Finally, make a trailer with swooshing swords and epic vistas that looks modestly spectacular. I'm thinking 'ka-ching!' (That's the sound of a cash register as big bucks flow into the box office.) Yet Swedish Television (SVT) recently said 'no thanks' after having a look at Arn: The Knight Templar.

As reported by Variety earlier this week, Arn is the most expensive film and TV project ever made in Scandanavia, budgeted at $30 million to adapt the trilogy by Jan Guillou into two movies and a TV series. The books revolve around a fictional character forced into service as a Knight Templar during the Crusades. Producer and distributor Svensk Filmindustri lined up an impressive array of partners; SVT was one of them, though the amount of their commitment was not revealed. SVT's head of drama evidently told Variety that the quality of the footage they'd seen was too low and that the extra material promised for the TV series was not delivered. In rebuttal, Guillou said the dispute was all about SVT not wanting to pay as much and had nothing to do with the quality of the material. Audiences will be able to decide for themselves: Arn: The Knight Templar is due to arrive in time for Christmas.