Something happened at some point in the last few years when we weren’t looking: Mark Wahlberg became a bona-fide A-lister. Of course, he’s been a movie star for nearly fifteen years, but wasn’t necessarily a guy who could open a movie on his own, with box-office disappointemnts going back as recently as 2008’s “Max Payne.” But off the back of “The Other Guys” and the Oscar-nominated success of “The Fighter,” Wahlberg seems to have become a major star, as proven by the fact that he single-handedly opened thriller “Contraband” in the January wastelands to an impressive $25 million weekend, and a total getting near $70 million to date.
And executives have cottoned on, with Wahlberg now busier than he’s ever been. He’s got Seth MacFarlane‘s “Ted” and Albert Hughes‘ thriller “Broken City” in the can, with Michael Bay‘s “Pain and Gain” and Denzel Washington actioner “2 Guns” in the pipeline, among many other projects, but the actor’s already set his sights on another potential star vehicle, and like “Contraband,” which was a remake of Icelandic thriller “Reykjavik-Rotterdam,” it’s a film that’s already had some success in Europe.
Shortlist spoke to Wahlberg ahead of the U.K. release of “Contraband,” and he told them that he’s set his sights on another thriller. “I saw a film recently called ‘Headhunters.’ It’s a Norwegian film and it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. I met with the director and pleaded with the studio that has the rights so we’ll see if we get anywhere with that.” If you missed it, “Headhunters” is an adaptation of the book by Jo Nesbø (whose “The Snowman” is set to be directed by Martin Scorsese), about a diminuitive corporate headhunter who indulges in art theft on the side to keep his wife in the style in which she’s accustomed, only to cross paths with a psychotic ex-special forces soldier (played in the Norwegian version by “Game of Thrones” star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau).
The Norwegian film, directed by Morten Tyldum, has been winning acclaim at home and on the festival circuit since it debuted last year, and Summit snapped up the remake rights, setting Sacha Gervasi (“Anvil,” “Henry’s Crime“) to write and direct — presumably these are the director and studio that Wahlberg’s referring to. While it seems like things are far from a done deal, Wahlberg would be a great fit for the main role, and we can’t imagine that Summit wouldn’t want him for the part.
We were a little cooler on the original than some were, so there’s no reason why a remake couldn’t improve things, and Gervasi is talented, even if we weren’t that keen on “Henry’s Crime.” The director’s also prepping “Alfred Hitchcock And The Making of Psycho,” which may go first, especially as Wahlberg’s slate is so busy. But we’re sure more news on this will be forthcoming. Magnolia Pictures will release the original version later in the year.