A movie about the building of the iconic Sydney Opera House is in development as a Danish/Swedish/Australian co-production. Petter Skavlan, who wrote the Oscar-nominated 2012 film Kon-Tiki, is on board to script.
The film will center on Danish architect Jorn Utzon, who won the international competition in 1957 to design an opera house on Sydney's Bennelong Point with its revolutionary shell-shaped exteriors. Due to budget constraints and political infighting, Utzon resigned in 1966, seven years before the building was completed and opened.
The project is currently titled Utzon, the Man Behind the Opera House. Producers are Swedish-Australian producer Jan Marnell from Right2Screen and Australian producers Marian Macgowan from Macgowan Films and Peter Herbert. Executive producers are Denmark's Ole Sondberg from Good Company Films and Sweden's Lars Weiss, also from Right2Screen.
Sondberg was an exec producer on David Fincher's 2011 thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
"Utzon was a great Danish architect and the story of how he created the Sydney opera - is both fascinating and scary," Sondberg said. "This story has to be told."
After being chosen as the building's architect, Utzon was encouraged by New South Wales Premier Joseph Cahill but his good fortune dramatically turned when the Liberal government of Robert Askin was elected in 1965. Utzon found himself in conflict with the new Minister of Works Davis Hughes, who stopped payments, resulting in Utzon's resignation and departure from Australia, never to return.
In 2003, Utzon was awarded an honorary doctorate for his work on the Opera House by the University of Sydney and the Pritzker Prize, architecture's highest honour. Utzon passed away in 2008.
"I have been fascinated by the story of Jorn Utzon and the Sydney Opera House for many years and look forward to finally getting the project under way," Skavlan said. "The Opera House is a symbol of Australia as a cultural nation as well as a symbol of one man's artistic vision. Against all odds Utzon managed to build his opera house, and the epic battle between the architect and the corrupt Askin government is perfect movie material."
Watch a 1972 promotional video about the construction of the Opera House from the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia: