English-lingo battle drama to cost up to $15 million

PARIS — AB Group, France’s largest pay TV group, is beefing up its production activity and acquisition of premium content.

The company, which operates 16 channels as well as brokering TV rights, is developing “Waterloo,” an English-language historical three-parter, which will be produced with international partners.

Richard Maroko, AB Group’s head of programming and acquisition, said he is in talks with ZDF Enterprises, the distribution arm of the German pubcaster, and French pubcaster France Televisions to come on board.

The miniseries is budgeted between $10 million and $15 million.

The Battle of Waterloo, which took place in 1815 near Brussels, saw the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte take on the British-led allied forces, commanded by the Duke of Wellington. The defeat of the French army put an end to Napoleon’s reign.

” ‘Waterloo’ will be packed with epic battle scenes and will be very ambitious in terms of reconstruction, decor and costumes,” Maroko told Variety.

It will be delivered in 2015 to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle.

The company is also developing a TV adaptation of Frederic Dard’s popular crime novels, “San Antonio,” which centers on the adventures of a French police captain.

Published between 1949 and 2001, the San Antonio anthology is one of the best-selling French novel series of all times, having sold an estimated 200 million copies.

Maroko said the one-hour drama series is being developed for primetime and the company is in talks with a French network.

“We’re looking to launch strong franchises to enrich our catalog,” said Maroko.

AB Group, which signed a deal with Paramount a year ago, is continuing to boost its acquisition of American hit drama series.

Recent pickups include “Hell on Wheels,” “Flashpoint” and “Hot in Cleveland,” as well as Irish crime drama “Jack Taylor” and Austrian cop series “Fast Forward.”

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