CANNES — Ovation TV has acquired U.S. premiere rights to Canal Plus’ hit period drama “Versailles” from Zodiak Rights.
Now sold around the world, the ambitious English-language series was created and exec produced by Simon Mirren (“Criminal Minds”) and David Wolstencroft (“The Escape Artist”). Powered by two rising British stars, Georges Blagden (“Vikings”) in the role of Louis XIV and Alexander Vlahos in the role of Sun King’s enigmatic brother, “Versailles” has earned solid reviews and record ratings on Canal Plus as well as in foreign markets.
“Versailles” will be rolling out in the U.S. on Ovation TV, a network dedicated to arts and cultural programs, on Oct.1.
The show was produced by France’s Capa Drama with Canada’s Incendo and Zodiak. Claude Chelli (“Braquo”), Anne Thomopoulos (“Rome,””The Tudors”) and Incendo’s Jean Bureau exec produced. French helmer Jalil Lespert (“Yves Saint Laurent”) directed the first episodes of season 1.
“Louis XIV created an international style and culture icon when he created the palace of Versailles, and in so doing, installed himself in the annals of history as not only a determined leader and libertine, but a harbinger of France’s profound artistic impact on the rest of the world,” said Scott Woodward, EVP of Programming and Production, Ovation. “The epic nature of this story is captured extraordinarily well in this lush production. Versailles is the epitome of ‘event’ programming and there’s no better network to showcase it than Ovation TV.”
Speaking to Variety, Woodward said the show had a definite French touch in spite of the fact that it was made in English with British actors. “The tone, mise-en-scene, character-driven approach, as well as the beautiful decors, costumes make it first and foremost a French series.” The American exec said the network will focus its promotional strategy on giving audiences as much background as possible on the historical context and importance of Louis XIV’s reign in France and beyond. Although “Versailles” includes a large amount of sex and violence Woodward said it wouldn’t be an issue since the show would air around 10 p.m..
Caroline Torrance, who is Zodiak Rights’ head of scripted, said “The Ovation acquisition highlights the true global appeal of such a sweeping and fascinating story brought to life with an energetic and cinematic style.” Torrance predicts the series will “play out extremely well for Ovation, demonstrating how high-end European dramas can grip audiences amidst the best of the home grown scripted dramas coming out of America.”
The deal was brokered by Andreas Lemos, Zodiak Rights’ VP of sales and acquisitions for North America and Rob Rader at Ovation and Liz Zee at The Point Media.
A second season of “Versailles” is currently shooting.