Netflix is going medieval: The Internet streamer announced a deal with The Weinstein Co. to exclusively distribute “Marco Polo,” a nine-episode series about the famed 13th Century explorer, in late 2014.
Produced by The Weinstein Co., the series will begin shooting soon at the new Pinewood Studios in Malaysia. Casting has not been announced. “Marco Polo” comes from directors and executive producers Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg (“Kon-Tiki,” “Max Manus: Man of War”), executive producer Dan Minahan (“Game of Thrones,” “True Blood”) and executive producer and creator John Fusco (“Young Guns,” “Hidalgo”).
“Marco Polo” is set in China, amid a world “replete with astonishing martial arts, sexual intrigue, political skullduggery and spectacular battles,” according to the producers. “John Fusco and his team have created a timeless tale of power, adventure, betrayal and lust that combines deft storytelling and cinematic ambition,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos tubthumped.
“Marco Polo” was originally being developed by Weinstein Co. and Electus for Starz, under a deal reached in early 2012. However, the pay-cabler passed on the project. Netflix said it will make the entire series available to subscribers, in all territories worldwide, sometime late in 2014.
Last summer, Netflix struck an output deal with The Weinstein Co. that will make Netflix the exclusive U.S. subscription TV service for first-run films from TWC, beginning in 2016. Netflix outbid Showtime Networks, which will continue to offer TWC movies through 2018.
Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of TWC, said in a statement: “With the glowing success of series like ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Orange Is the New Black,’ it’s clear that Netflix is breaking tremendous ground in the realm of streaming original content. We could not be more excited to partner with them on this project, along with the creative tour de force of John Fusco and his talented team.”
Ronning and Sandberg, who are directing the pilot of “Marco Polo,” are helming the fifth installment of Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.