Mipcom: Studiocanal Brings ‘Midnight Sun,’ ‘Below the Surface’ Onto Market

‘Paranoid,’ ‘Crazyhead’ join Euro studio’s biggest TV slate to date

Midnight Sun, starring Leila Bekhti, Gustaf
Courtesy: Studiocanal

Led by “Midnight Sun,” one of the most anticipated shows in Europe, Studiocanal is bringing four new TV series onto the market at Mipcom, its biggest TV sales slate ever.

Backed by Canal Plus and Swedish broadcaster SVT and written by “The Bridge” co-screenwriters Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein, “Midnight Sun” is joined by “Below the Surface,” from Denmark’s SAM Productions, run by the creators of “Borgen” and “The Killing” and the producer of “A Royal Affair.” The two series establish Studiocanal as a preeminent representative of Nordic noir and Scandinavian TV talent at Mipcom.

Also on Studiocanal’s slate: the procedural “Paranoid,” from Nicola Shindler’s Manchester-based RED Production Company, producer of Harlan Coben’s “The Five,” which launched last week on ITV1 to above-average ratings; and “Crazyhead,” from “Misfits” creator Howard Overman, described as a “Buffy”-style demon slayer horror comedy, from London’s Urban Myth Films.

Urban is one of three TV production houses – along with Benedict Cumberbatch’s SunnyMarch TV and Madrid-based Bambu Productions (“Velvet”) – in which Studiocanal took a minority stake, a move announced at April’s Mip TV. Studiocanal’s Mipcom slate shows the fruits of this producer network.

“Partnering with or owning seven companies gives us the chance to grow step by step and bring to the market a broader, more diverse slate,” said Rodolphe Buet, Studiocanal president, international marketing and distribution.

Its partners are also more producing series on a European scale, highlighting previously untold true stories across the continent.

“Midnight Sun” is a case in point.  A buzzed-up series since its first two episodes bowed at April’s Paris’ Series Mania, sharing its coveted Audience Award, the high-end murder mystery tracks a French police officer, Kahina Zadi (Leila Bekhti, “A Prophet”), who is dispatched from Paris to a small mining community in Arctic Sweden to investigate the gruesome murder of a French citizen. She is aided by a local Swedish DA, Anders Harnesk (Gustaf Hammarsten, “The Girl in the Dragon Tattoo”).

Spoken in English, Swedish, French and Sami, “Midnight Sun” mixes a thriller narrative, stunning Lapland landscapes, troubled characters – both Zadi and Harnesk have to accept their true identity, one as a mother, the other as a gay Sami cop – and true-events-based issues, here of a decidedly ecological bent.

Studiocanal is in advanced negotiations to close sales deals with various partners worldwide, said Rodolphe Buet. The breadth of buyers reflects “Midnight Sun’s” ability to address both free TV and pay TV audiences,  he added.

“Below the Surface,” an eight-part crime thriller made by SAM for Denmark’s Discovery Communications-owned Kanal 5, turns on 15 people taken hostage on a Copenhagen subway train by three masked armed men. A task force led by Philip Norgaard (Johannes Lassen, “1864”) is sent in to rescue them as a journalist (Paprika Steen, “The Celebration”) plays go-between with their captors. Kasper Barfoed (“Dicte – Crime Reporter”) serves as the series creator, head writer and concept director; Morten Kjems Hytten Juhl, producer of Johannes Nyholm’s Toronto-screened feature “The Giant,” produces; Søren Sveistrup (“The Killing”) and Adam Price (“Borgen”) are creative producers, Meta Louise Foldager Sørensen (“A Royal Affair”) executive producer. Action plays out over eight days, one day per episode, Buet said.

Made for ITV and Netflix, “Paranoid” stars Indira Varma (“Luther,” “Torchwood”), opening with a small-town murder investigation which quickly spirals into an ever-darkening mystery on a European scale, Studiocanal said in a statement.

That pan-European dimension is “part of Studiocanal’s roots: We want to anchor TV series, as well as films, in Europe,” said Buet.

“Paranoid” is written by Bill Gallagher (“The Paradise”), produced by Tom Sherry (“Prey,” “Ordinary Lies,” “Scott & Bailey”) and executive-produced by Shindler (“Happy Valley,” “The Five,” “Last Tango in Halifax”) and Gallagher.

“Crazyhead” stars Cara Theobald (“Downtown Abbey”) and Susan Wokoma (“Chewing Gum”) as two women dealing with being in their early twenties while facing off with the legions of hell. “Thrilling, anarchic and rude,” though turning on “love, friendship and accepting who you are,” according to Studiocanal, “Crazyhead” is scheduled to bow this fall on Channel 4’s E4 in the U.K., a channel targeting 15-35s.

“It’s a genre which Studiocanal wants to develop further. We’ve seen over the last months how comedy is growing,” Buet said.

He added: “ Just look at the fantastic results of ‘Bridget Jones’ internationally at the moment. People are looking for comedy.”

“Crazyhead” is exec-produced by Urban Myth’s Johnny Capps (“Merlin,” “Sugar Rush”), Julian Murphy (“Merlin,” “Hex”) and Overman,