‘Tour de France’ docu travels globe

Buyers include NBC, ITV, NHK

BIARRITZ, France — “The Tour de France,” Jean-Christophe Rose’s two-part documentary looking at the cycling event’s 100-year history, is peddling its way Stateside.

NBC is among a raft of broadcasters that have picked up the docu, produced and repped by La Compagnie des Phares et Balises.

It was also pre-sold to ITV (U.K.), NHK and J Sport (Japan), RDS (Canada), RTBF (Belgium), TV2 (Norway), ORF (Austria) and AB (France).

Sales were revealed at TV France Intl.’s Rendez-Vous mart, which wraps Wednesday in Biarritz, France.

“Tour de France,” which is still in production, retraces the race’s milestones and controversies with colorized archives and interviews.

The €1.3 million ($1.6 million) budget docu was commissioned by pubcaster France 2 in partnership with Amaury Sport Org., which runs the Tour de France and is providing exclusive access to its archives.

“The Tour de France is one of the most popular sporting event worldwide — in 2009, it was broadcasted in 170 countries,”said Yasmine Benkiran, head of international development at Phares et Balises.

The company is prepping a cross-platform event and is in talks with French theatrical exhibitors to organize screenings city-by-city following the race’s course.

Rose has a solid track record in documentary filmmaking, including European Film Award nominee “Maradona: The Golden Kid” about Argentinean soccer player Diego Maradona.

“Tour de France” will be delivered in April for primetime broadcast on France 2. The pubcaster channel had scored some of its best primetime ratings with the upscale docu series “Apocalypse: The Second World War” and “Apocalypse: Hitler,” which also featured colorized archive footage.

Phares et Balises’ other key docu series, Karim Miske’s “Jews and Muslims, So Far, So Close” — examining the relationship between people from the 8th century up to the present day through 2D papercut-watercolor animation, archives and interviews — was acquired by TV5 (Canada), 2M (Morroco), RTS and SRF (Switzerland) and MTV (Hungary).

Commissioned by Arte, the $2.5 million docu, now in production, is backed by the Media Program and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. It will air on Arte in France and Germany.

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