You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Belgium Noir Hit ‘The Break’ Rolls Out First Sales

Fruit of Europe’s TV spring, RTBF-aired crime series was written with large freedom, backed by novel Belgian state support for TV production

PARIS – “The Break” (La Treve) – a banner title in so-called new Belgian Noir that is clinching TV mart prizes, festival selection, and stonking domestic TV ratings – has initiated international sales closing deals with France, Flemish-speaking Belgium and Switzerland.

Buyers were France 2, a major channel at state-run France Televisions, Flemish pubcaster VRT, and Swiss French-language channel RTS.

Negotiated by Ella Productions, deals are natural early sales for a French-speaking TV drama which, screening at Paris’ Series Mani this week, lifts the lid on crime and corruption in a backward backwoods village in Belgium’s Ardennes.

Other territories are, however, under negotiation on a title which caught attention when Pascal Breton’s Federation Entertainment, producer of Netflix’s first French original series “Marseille,” clinched a deal on the eve of MipTV to acquire world sales rights outside France, Belgium and Switzerland to the dark procedural.

Created by writing team Stephane Bergmans, Benjamin D’Aoust and Mathieu Donck, then directed by Donk, “The Break” plays off two trends now invigorating TV production outside the U.S: the still-select creation of state funds to fire up higher-quality TV production; the disembarking of national film sectors into TV production.

The latter’s evident from “The Break’s” get-go. Set in lush Ardennes hills – a mix of thickly pined ridges sluiced by small rivers, “The Break” kicks in with a flash-forward of 40-year-old Inspector Yoann Peters, now in custody, recounting to a forensic psychologist a nightmare where he beats a delivery man until the man’s head bursts against a door.

Cut back to a bloodied Peters staggering along a country road pistol in hand, then three weeks earlier, settling in to his mother’s house in Heiderfeld, the village he grew up. The corpse of Driss Assani, a 19-year-old balck defender in the local soccer team, is dragged out of the local river. The police chief writes the case as suicide; Peters soon proves it was murder.

Lensed by cinematographer Olivier Boonjing, “The Break,” especially in its first seg, captures the lush Ardennes with an almost neo-Impressionist palette. Camera-movements are muscular – spectacular aerial shots and unsettling constant movement – the soundtrack premonitory, insinuating not only the hidden violence and web of complicity Peters may discover in the village as he investigates Assani’s murder but also the ineradicable violence he may discover in himself.

Produced by Helicotronc, in co-production with RTBF and Proximus, “The Break” aired on RTBF’s La Une where it hit strong 22.5% shares.

“We come from the cinema industry. We created this series as a (very long) feature film in its look and in it’s genre,” Donck told Variety in a soon-to-be published Q & A.

“The Break” received €1.18 million ($1.5 million) from a new Wallonie Brussels Federation-RTBF Fund for Belgian Series. It also exemplifies a TV phenomenon building across Europe: Creators, often inspired by U.S cable TV, fashioning TV shows for free-to-air primetime with some of the edge and darkness of human vision once the near monopoly of pay TV. As “The Break’s” audiences indicate, rather than limiting viewership, this can be a ratings winner.

More TV

  • Homecoming Amazon Studios

    Julia Roberts Will Not Return for 'Homecoming' Season 2

    Julia Roberts will not be starring in “Homecoming” Season 2 at Amazon, Variety has confirmed. The Oscar-winning actress will remain on the show as an executive producer, however. “Homecoming” was picked up for two seasons when it was initially ordered at Amazon, but Roberts only had a one-year deal to star on the show, according to [...]

  • ‘Metro Exodus’ Opens Up Post-Apocalyptic Russia

    ‘Metro Exodus’ Author On Film, Possible TV Series, Expansive New Game

    Since the launch of the post-apocalyptic survival first-person shooter “Metro 2033” in 2010, the series has kept its action confined to the tunnels running underneath Russia. “Metro Exodus,” due out next month, takes the gameplay to the surface for the first time, going above ground with sprawling levels against a changing backdrop of weather conditions [...]

  • Mr. Peanut to Appear in His

    Mr. Peanut to Appear in His First Super Bowl Commercial

    The monocle-wearing Mr. Peanut is about to offer snack fans an entirely new lens on Super Bowl advertising. Planters, which has featured the anthropomorphic legume for more than a century as its spokes-character, will place him in a 30-second ad slated to appear in the second quarter of CBS’ broadcast of Super Bowl LIII on [...]

  • DRG Boards Sales on Scandi Sci-Fi

    DRG Boards Sales on Scandi Sci-Fi Mystery Series ‘The White Wall’

    Scandinavian sci-fi series “The White Wall” is coming to the international market, starting at NATPE, after DRG picked up international rights to the upcoming project. Finland’s Fire Monkey and Nice Drama, part of the Nordic Entertainment Group, are making “The White Wall” for Swedish pubcaster SVT and its Finnish counterpart, YLE. It will feature a [...]

  • L.A. Teachers' Strike: Hollywood Studios, Unions

    Hollywood Studios, Unions Support Parents and Educators as L.A. Teachers' Strike Rages

    Hollywood unions and entertainment companies have stepped up to support the 31,000 Los Angeles teachers in the second day of a massive strike that’s affected nearly half a million students. More than 50 SAG-AFTRA members picketed at a Tuesday afternoon rally in the driving rain next to the Hollywood & Highland Center with secretary-treasurer Jane [...]

  • R. KellyR. Kelly in concert at

    'Surviving R. Kelly' Producers on the Lifetime Doc's Ripple Effect

    The ripple effect of “Surviving R. Kelly” continues to widen more than a week after the documentary aired on Lifetime, renewing public interest — and outrage — over the litany of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B artist. Lady Gaga and Phoenix have apologized for working with him. Chance the Rapper and other artists are said to [...]

  • Yellowstone

    Viacom Lays Off Paramount Network Staffers Amid Reorganization (EXCLUSIVE)

    Viacom has laid off a number of staffers in its entertainment group, with the majority of the affected employees hailing from Paramount Network, Variety has learned exclusively. A Viacom spokesperson declined to comment. But a source with knowledge of the situation that the number of affected employees was fewer than 20, or less than 2% of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content