Matila Rohr Productions of Finland Partner with the UK’s Film and Music Entertainment and Denmark’s Nordisk Film (world sales TrustNordisk) on the latest installment of the Rolli Franchise

// 21st of May, 2012

‘Rolli and the Golden Key’ – a musical adventure for children of all ages

The Finnish Rolli franchise has taken on yet another lease of life with the announcement this week that a musical live action version of the latest Rolli story will go into production later this year. The film has just received funding from the new Finnish Film Foundation 50/50 fund a scheme supporting feature productions that have already secured 50% of their finance.

The much loved Rolli franchise started life as a TV series mid 80’s and spawned a series of feature films which became a by word for quality and commercial success in the Scandinavian media landscape. In 1991 came the first feature Rolli - hirmuisia kertomuksia followed 10 years later by Rolli and the Wood Sprite by Olli Saarela. In 2002 came the video game Rolli ja metsänhenki and in between Scandinavia was swamped by all manner of Rolli memorabilia, merchandising, publications and media products.

Taavi Vartia will direct this latest incarnation which takes on the tricky subject of Rolli growing up - the first since the animated feature Quest For a Heart, directed by Pekka Lehtosaari,and starring the voices of Mackenzie Crook, Sir Derek Jacobi, Catherine McCormack, and Lisa Stansfield.

Founded on the Scandinavian troll tale traditions, Rolli is a joyful character that has been a huge favourite of children and families for more than three decades. Millions of music albums sold along with three feature films have guaranteed the popularity of the figure. Previous titles have been distributed in dozens of countries and the films have been very successful in cinemas andas retail copies alike. Quest for a Heart opened in Russia in TOP 10 and has since made almost $2,000,000 in box office takings.

The fantasy musical "Rolli and the Golden Key" is a story about the power of friendship and the fact that friendship is not an attribute tied to age. In the film, the grey-haired and aged Rolli confronts a mistake he has made in his youth by telling about it to his newly made friend - a small, fantastical girl called Juniper. At the same time the story clearly conveys the message that it is never too late to correct one’s mistakes, as long as one has the courage to face them.

Rolli Village has been left deserted as the folk have been forced to move into Rolli City, a city built around a big circus and run by the evil Ringmaster. Because of a thoughtless action made by Rolli in his younger years, the village is now closed behind a locked gate and the Golden Key is in the hands of the Ringmaster. It is now up to Rolli to retrieve the key and get the town back for him and his friends.
"Rolli and the Golden Key offers a timeless and universal world view." Says director Taavi Vartia, "Its ideas and events are not bound to any nationality or era. The big, classic elements of fairytales - adventure, friendship, courage and understanding - remain the same regardless of time and place. As the film is first and foremost a children’s movie, extra attention is paid to more thrilling scenes - what is exciting is not scary. The visual world is clearly defined and stylised."

The film is shot with live actors in realistically constructed sets. Some of the characters are realised as computer animations, as are parts of the sets and landscapes. Blue and green screen technology is used both in creating the basic story and in the making of the musical scenes. Some of the characters are familiar from the previous Rolli films, but also new protagonists are introduced. There are also plenty of animals in the film, some of which are computer animated.

"Rolli tales and songs are an endless source for stories." Says producer Marko Rohr, "On this foundation, we have created the screenplay for a new fantasy musical called Rolli and the Golden Key - the film will be a fairytale truly tailor-made for families! The new Rolli film is backed by a wide selection of merchandise which is introduced to support the promotion and marketing of the film. Rolli is an authentic cross media production to embellish the blossoming market of family cinema!"

Rolli and the Golden Key reunites the production team that produced Quest for A Heart, the international animation feature co-produced by London based Film and Music Entertainment and Moscow’s Contact Media Group.

"When Marko came with the idea of a new Rolli film," says Film and Music Entertainment’s Mike Downey, "we couldn’t resist the challenge and the fun. Quest for a Heart was an enormous international success and lifted the brand awareness outside of Scandinavia, now with a musical like action version we can build on that nascent market for the brand."

Pre-production on the film is already underway and the film will be delivered in time for the domestic Finnish release in February 2013. Post production will be carried out at the Molinare Post Production Village in London.

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