U.K.'s Channel 4 Catches French Drama

Supernatural genre series is produced by Haut & Court

PARIS — U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 has nabbed premiere broadcast rights to hit Gallic suspenser “Rebound,” repped by Zodiak Rights.

Canal Plus’ highest-rated original drama, “Rebound” is produced by Haut & Court, the arthouse film label behind “Coco Before Chanel” and Palme d’Or-winning “The Class.”

Deal was unveiled today by Channel 4’s chief creative officer Jay Hunt.

“This powerful and innovative French series is already one of the most anticipated shows of the year. The first fully subtitled drama that we have broadcast in 20 years, everything about ‘Rebound’ feels very Channel 4; visceral, compelling and incredibly contemporary, the creators have taken the supernatural genre and re-written the rules,” said Hunt. “It is evidence not just of a creative high point in European drama, but of Channel 4’s willingness to bring audiences the best and most challenging programs.”

Alexandre Piel, senior VP of international sales and acquisitions at Zodiak Rights, said it was “extremely gratifying” to bring to Channel 4 audiences a series as strong as the biggest U.K. and Scandinavian hits. Zodiak Rights broke into the U.K. market with “Wallander,” which airs on BBC4, and Gallic cop drama “Braquo” on FX.

Set in a small Alpine village, “Rebound” centers on a group of long-dead men, women and children who mysteriously return from beyond the grave with no memory of what happened to them, and are determined to reclaim their places among the living.

Penned by Fabrice Gobert (“Lights Out”) and Frederic Mermoud with a sound-track by Mogwai, the murder mystery mixes drama and fantasy. Cast includes bigscreen talents Anne Consigny, Clotilde Hesme, Celine Sallette, Guillaume Gouix, Frederic Pierrot and Samir Guesmi.

Show’s critical and commercial success marks a milestone for Canal Plus and its head of drama, Fabrice de la Patelliere, who commissioned and co-developed it for nearly five years with Haut et Court’s Caroline Benjo and Jimmy Desmarais. “Rebound” is the first homegrown contempo fantasy series.

“With ‘Rebound’ we showed that we could create an innovative French-language drama that translates into different cultures because it deals with a universal myth in an intimist and singular way,” said Benjo.

Meanwhile, “Rebound” is also being adapted for the English-language market by “State of Play” scribe Paul Abbott as part of his first-look deal with FremantleMedia.

Benjo and Desmarais told Variety the format of “Rebound,” also sold by Zodiak Rights, has sparked offers from Italy, Russia, Argentina, Sweden and Spain.

Other sales for “Rebound” include Sweden (SVT), Netherlands (Just bridge), Israel (Hot), Turkey (Sinema TV), New Zealand (Rialto), Hong Kong (Now TV) and Hungary (Viasat). Advanced negotiations are ongoing with execs in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia, Italy and Latin America.

In recent years, British auds have been warming to French drama, particularly Canal Plus’ dark-edged crimers and thrillers, which provide an alternative to Scandinavian fare.

BBC4 opened the door to Gallic drama a few years ago with cop show “Spiral,” then FX picked up “Braquo” and Sky Arts nabbed Canal Plus series, “Hard” and “Maison Close” in 2012.

“Rebound” will premiere on C4 this year.

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