John M. Jacobsen started his career in the film industry at the age of 15 as a bouncer and program manager for a local cinema on the outskirts of Oslo. At the age of 17, he left school to work at the warehouse of Universal Pictures’ office in Oslo.
Throughout his extensive career, which involved film distribution and the development of the emerging video industry, Jacobsen is primarily known as a significant producer. Since his debut with Prima Veras saga om Olav den Hellige (“Prima Vera’s Saga about Olav the Holy”) in 1983, followed by Hard Asfalt (“Hard Asphalt”) (1986) and Veiviseren (“Pathfinder”) (1987), Jacobsen has produced over 40 titles spanning over four decades. In 1988, he established the Norwegian subsidiary of Svensk Filmindustri, SF Norge AS, which quickly became the country’s largest distribution company. In 1996, he shifted his focus entirely to film production. In 1997, Jacobsen created Norway’s first full-length animated film, Solan, Ludvig og Gurin med Reverompa (“Gurin with the Foxtail”) and has produced a total of four full-length animated films and over 50 animated TV episodes featuring Elias, den lille redningsskøyta (“Elias, the little rescue boat”), and Blekkulf, the former of which was nominated for an Emmy. He has also been a driving force in implementing CGI technology in Norwegian films, including the legendary Jakten på Nyresteinen (“The Hunt For The Kidney Stone”) (1986), and notably, last year’s Vikingulven (“Viking Wolf”) which made it to Netflix’s international top 10 list of most-watched non-English language films.
Jacobsen’s films have been nominated for both the Oscars and International Emmy Awards, and have won the Amanda, Kanonprisen, and Gullruten awards. He himself has been awarded the Honorary Amanda, the Cinema Directors’ Guild’s Gullstrimmelen, the Film & Kino’s Future Cinema Prize, and the Municipal Cinemas’ Honorary Aamot Statue. His production Max Manus (2008), is the biggest Norwegian box office success in modern times with 1.2 million tickets sold and the TV-series Kampen om Tungtvannet (“The Heavy Water War”) (2015) is the most-watched drama production in Norwegian TV history, averaging 1.8 million viewers per episode.
John M. Jacobsen has been appointed Commander of the Order of St. Olav for his contributions to Norwegian cinema.