ITV plots $15 million Titanic drama

Julian Fellowes pens four-part miniseries

The Titanic is about to be raised … again.

ITV Studios, the production arm of Blighty’s commercial net, is steaming ahead with a four-part £10 million ($15.4 million) miniseries about the tragic vessel.

On board as co-producers are CanWest Global in Canada and TV3 in Ireland. Also helping to power the venture are Simon Vaughan’s Lookout Point, Nigel Stafford-Clark’s Deep Indigo Prods. and Canada’s Sienna Films.

News follows July’s announcement that Italy’s DeAngelis Group is developing “Titanic: The Untold Story of How it All Began,” a $28 million TV miniseries (Variety, July 15).

Vaughan said most of the coin for the ITV project is in place but at least one more partner is needed before pre-production can start in January. It’s due to air on ITV in April 2012 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

He said, “A project of this scale can only be produced with the support of the international markets. A U.S. or a European partner, perhaps from Germany or Italy, would be great. I’ll be in Mipcom next month talking to potential co-producers.”

Scripted by Julian Fellowes and produced by Stafford-Clark, much heralded for his 2005 serialization of “Bleak House” for the BBC, the as-yet untitled miniseries is the first ITV Studios show ordered by the company’s new managing director, Kevin Lygo.He said: “The Titanic is undoubtedly the most famous ship in history. It’s our objective to produce the definitive drama for this landmark anniversary and continue to propel the fascination that surrounds the Titanic’s maiden and final voyage.”

Lygo is under pressure to improve ITV Studio’s international perf, so a lot could be riding on the Titanic project.