PARIS — While Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp has been dominating headlines in recent years with films such as “Taken” and “Lucy,” the company’s TV division has been growing at a steady pace since opening an L.A. office and is lining up a strong roster of franchise-based spinoffs and original drama.
EuropaCorp Television, formally Cipango, is fully in the hands of division head Thomas Anargyros now that his former co-chief, Edouard de Vesinne, has been named deputy CEO of EuropaCorp. The TV outfit, which is headquartered at La Cite du Cinema on the outskirts of Paris, launched EuropaCorp TV Studios USA shepherded by Matthew Gross in May 2014 and is already on track to deliver the TV spinoff of “Taken” for NBC in 2017. The American division has five other shows in the pipeline, including “Bulletproof” which has pre-sold to Amazon Studios.
Today, TV accounts for about 20% of EuropaCorp’s business, and Anargyros expects it will soon reach a third. The French division of EuropaCorp’s TV banner is aiming to produce 20 to 25 hours of European drama for primetime slots on major TV networks.
“Crimson Rivers,” a thriller inspired by Jean-Christophe Grange’s crime novel, is among the high-profile series in development. Grange has been tapped as showrunner of the series. The book was previously turned into a feature film by Mathieu Kassovitz. French pubcaster France 2 and Germany’s Prosieben commissioned the TV version, which will be shot mainly in French with some German dialogue.
“A few years ago, we would have made this series in English, but we now feel confident enough to shoot it in French. Our partners have also gained more confidence in our ability to produce world-class content with French talent,” said Anargyros, who co-founded Cipango with De Vesinne in 2002 and stayed on board as co-president with him when their outfit was acquired by EuropaCorp in 2010.
Another ambitious series in development is “Inside,” with Dmitry Lipkin on board as showrunner. Anargyros said the show, commissioned by Italy’s Mediaset, was a feminine take on “Donnie Brasco.” “Inside” follows a woman working for U.S. intelligence who is in charge of dismantling a European weapons-trafficking ring but who unexpectedly falls in love with the ringleader.
Besson is also a driving force behind select shows, notably the paranormal series “Life After Life,” which is based on an idea by Besson and is being created by Naren Shankar, the co-showrunner of “CSI” and “Almost Human.” Prosieben is co-developing the series.