“I’m proud to say I don’t know any broadcaster in the U.S. which has put in so much investment, and put so much on the line into what is essentially a Chinese-inspired story and is now bringing that to a huge audience in the U.S.,” said Tuchman on Wednesday at the China and the World conference on the fringes of the Shanghai Television Festival.
Starring Hong Kong’s Daniel Wu, the six-part series that debuts in November is the story of a well-trained warrior who embarks on a journey across a dangerous territory to find enlightenment. Accompanying him on his journey is a young boy named M.K. (Aramis Knight).
Tuchman said that the series is inspired by Chinese fantastical tale “Journey to the West” and is AMC’s “costliest investment to date.”
“It is a genre-bending show. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic U.S., but it is all based on martial arts, and how people survive using martial arts in a crazy future.
“We are hoping that this will be a big show here in China as well in the U.S.,” said Tuchman, who sees international audiences as a growing element in AMC’s strategy.
“We didn’t have an international business five years ago. So when a lot of these shows [“Walking Dead, “Mad Men”] came out, we sold them to third parties, because that was the smart thing to do financially. But now that we have channels all over the world, we are holding onto our content,” Tuchman said.
International considerations are growing in production, casting and even investment terms. Wu, a co-founder of the Alive Not Dead Hong Kong-based talent agency, and his business partner Stephen Fung are credited as producers on the show.
“We have to do things with an international component, because there is more revenue to be made. But also what is happening is that our creative teams in the U.S. are looking at the whole world now,” said Tuchman. “The great leaps in technology allow our people to become very conversant with what is going on all over the world. I think that is inspiring. And as a result you are seeing things that are much more applicable to global audiences.”
But Tuchman also had a word of caution for China’s media regulators, who have recently limited the amount of Western content that can be shown on Chinese online platforms and have also introduced the requirement that complete series must pass censorship before being allowed to air. That removes the possibility of day and date broadcasting and allows more room for piracy to operate.
“If [HBO’s] ‘Game of Thrones’ is going to be banned here in China, or subject to intense scrutiny and censorship, and inevitable delay, then you may be protecting the audiences from the bad elements, but the audience is going to go get it immediately. And no one benefits from that financially, culturally or otherwise.”