King ‘Crimson’ to TV

Hit Gallic franchise to become mini for TF1

CANNES — Hit Gallic movie franchise “Crimson Rivers” is being prepped to become a “Lost”-style event TV series.

Leading commercial broadcaster TF1 and Alain Goldman, producer of the two Jean Reno-starring actioners, have signed a development deal for six 52-minute episodes, TF1 head of broadcasting Etienne Mougeotte said here Tuesday.

In Cannes, TF1 also unveiled its next summer potboiler miniseries,  the 5-by-90 minute “The Master of the Zodiac,” budgeted at E12 million, and announced the renewal of a multiyear output deal with Buena Vista Intl. Television.

Both TF1 and Goldman, for whom “Crimson Rivers” will be a first foray into TV production, talked up the project as a European answer to the U.S. series  grabbing primetime slots around the world.

“After the success of shows like ‘Lost’…it is clear that the public’s tastes have evolved and they are ready for something harder-hitting and with more tension,” said Takis Candilis, TF1’s head of fiction.

TF1 is looking for international partners for the series and could set some episodes in different European locations. With the deal signed only last week, writers and cast are not yet in place.

Based on a bestselling novel by Jean-Christophe Grange, the two “Crimson Rivers” films were dark, gothic thrillers laced with religion, the paranormal and a fair amount of blood.

The first film grossed $60 million worldwide and the second, “Crimson Rivers 2: Angels of the Apocalypse,” earned $50 million, two-thirds of which came from foreign biz, Goldman said, though neither ignited U.S. or other English-speaking territories.

Goldman said: ” ‘Crimson Rivers’ was a breakthrough for French cinema in European markets and the idea is to do the same thing in television.”

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