Estonian 'Melchior' film trilogy to be turned into miniseries abroad

Scene from
Scene from "Melchior the Apothecary: The Ghost." 2022. Source: Movie still

Based on the medieval crime series by bestselling Estonian author Indrek Hargla, the three feature films of the "Melchior the Apothecary" trilogy will be released abroad as a six-part miniseries, "Melchior" screenwriter Olle Mirme told Vikerraadio.

In a longer interview with Vikeraadio's "Kajalood" to air Saturday, Mirme confirmed that the three feature-length films had been sold for release abroad as a six-part miniseries.

He noted that the development of series had fallen some 15-20 years behind until given a boost by the growing popularity of at-home consumption of audiovisual content, adding that various streaming services, including Netflix, are releasing movies as though they were series.

"This paves the way for good stories to reach the public," Mirme said, considering the convergence of genres to be a positive development.

"In terms of cinematography, the difference between TV series and big screen movies is really only nuanced by now," he added.

Olle Mirme. August 2022. Source: Laura Raudnagel/ERR

Following a gala premiere last Monday and rollout to theaters nationwide by Friday, "Melchior the Apothecary: The Ghost" ranked number one at the box office this past weekend, drawing more than 20,000 viewers across the country.

Mirme admitted that, with just a few exceptions, reviews of the series' second installment have been surprisingly positive and laudatory.

Comparing the two first movies, he said he was particularly fond of "The Ghost," a sentiment shared by others in the film world as well.

Mirme was one of three screenwriters for the "Melchior" trilogy, alongside director Elmo Nüganen and "Melchior" novel author Indrek Hargla.

He explained that his job was to keep the structure of the film script together while absorbing a whole host of various impulses and other people's ideas and turning it into a coherent, easy to follow whole that's still comprehensible on paper as well.

Two 'Melchiors' crack top 10 at once

This past weekend, and for the first time in Estonian film history, two parts of the same movie series reached top ten in box office rankings, with "Melchior the Apothecary: The Ghost" reaching number one and drawing more than 20,000 to theaters across the country.

The first "Melchior," meanwhile, ranked 8th overall, with nearly 500 viewers. During its own opening weekend in April, "Melchior the Apothecary" drew nearly 30,000 viewers to theaters.

Since its release, however, the first "Melchior" movie has been seen in theaters more than 125,500 times, one of the all time best results in the history of Estonian film.

Since regaining independence in August 1991, just 11 Estonian feature films have ever cracked 100,000 at the box office, including "Truth and Justice," "Names in Marble," "The Little Comrade," "Class Reunion" and now "Melchior the Apothecary" as well.

Also for the first time in Estonian movie history, an entire trilogy of films will premiere within a single calendar year, with the third and final movie, "Melchior the Apothecary: The Executioner's Daughter" slated to hit theaters on October 14.

A ghost appears

In the second installment of the medieval crime thriller trilogy, a night watchman is startled by a terrible ghost — the tragically drowned daughter of a rich merchant. By morning, the watchman has fallen to his death from a high tower, and several more people have lost their lives in suspicious accidents as well.

During the investigation of these events, Melchior's paths cross with those of a prostitute and a priest, a foreign artist and a mad heretic. Clues lead him to Pirita Convent, the gloomy vaults of which hide a dangerous secret buried in oblivion.

Melchior is likewise troubled by the mysterious origin of his former student, Keterlyn, which seems to have something to do with what is going on...

Director: Elmo Nüganen
Starring: Märten Metsaviir, Maarja Johanna Mägi, Alo Kõrve, Raivo Trass, Carmen Mikiver, Rain Simmul, Riina Maidre, Mait Malmsten
Producers: Taska Film, Nafta Films, Apollo Film Productions, HansaFilm
Co-producers: Maze Pictures (Germany), Film Angels Productions (Latvia), InScript (Lithuania)
Sponsors: Estonian Film Institute (EFI), Ministry of Culture, Viru Film Fund, the Film Fund of Saare County, Tartu Film Fund, National Film Center of Latvia, Riga Film Fund, Lithuanian Tax Incentive, Creative Europe MEDIA, Kanal2 and Apollo TV


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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