And apparently it’s also based on L. Frank Baum‘s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, which is neither dark nor has Vikings in it. Join me while I try to untangle this knot.
Deadline reports that Sony has beaten out Universal and Warner Bros. in a bidding war for a script by relative newcomers Ben Lustig and Jake Thornton known as Winter Knight. The company has already attached Marc Platt and Lawrence Grey to the film as producers (between the two are credits on Hope Springs, Winter’s Tale, Drive, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Legally Blonde) and Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg as co-directors. Ronning and Sandberg are a Norwegian directing team responsible for the very well received Kon-Tiki, a job that put them in the director’s chairs for Disney’s eventual next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, PotC: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
The news site also describes the movie both as “the Viking-mythology-tinged origin story of St. Nick and Christmas,” and says “the subject matter is [L. Frank Baum's] 1902 book The Life And Adventures Of Santa Claus.” For those of you who haven’t completed the occasional seasonal re-read of the small volume a number of times, this is strange because The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus doesn’t involve Vikings. In fact, the whole book is somewhat removed from any definite geography or time period. Taking place simultaneously in a climate with snow-covered winters and one in which an infant Nicholas can be suckled by a lioness and then raised by wood nymphs, the story is very explicitly a fairy tale. Published in 1905, it lacks a number of the modern characteristics of Santa Claus, such as a workshop near the North Pole, the reindeer names of A Visit from St. Nicholas, or Mrs. Claus. It’s also not what I would call dark, certainly even less so than, say, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, to name another fantasy story in which Santa Claus appears.
However, a piece of historical action fiction that pulls a warrior/savior Santa Claus origin story out of Viking conversion to Christianity or Viking raids on England’s monasteries? I’d watch that. Sadly, “historically accurate Vikings” and “movies that make a lot of money” do not tend to overlap much, so I suspect Sony is going for something a bit different.
Honestly, though, whatever they do in pursuit of a “dark Santa Claus origin movie,” it is probably going to be amusing to watch.