Wild Bunch TV Sells Spotnitz’s ‘Medici’ to Altice’s Zive for France

Altice Group's Zive look to drive into investment of 'exclusive first-run original series, starring French and European talents"

PARIS — In a key sales and door-opening strategic move, Wild Bunch TV has sold exclusive first-run, first-season SVOD rights to “Medici: Masters of Florence” – co-created by Frank Spotnitz (“The X-Files,” “The Man in the High Castle”) and starring Dustin Hoffman and Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”) – to Zive, the newly launched VOD service of SFR Play, part of Patrick Drahi’s Altice Group. Deal takes in France, Luxembourg and French-speaking Belgium.

Crucially, Wild Bunch and Zive also now envisage broadening their partnership, notably to include future original series initiated by Zive, Zive and Wild Bunch TV said in a Wednesday press statement. That signals that Altice looks set to get into the premium TV drama business as a buyer, investor and originator. Zive will drive into “exclusive first-run original series, starring French and European talents,” company said Wednesday.

Licensing pact is a pioneering deal for both companies. Launching Sept. 2015, Wild Bunch TV, the TV co-production-sales arm of Wild Bunch, one of Europe’s premier movie sales-financing-production companies, unveiled a two series slate: “Medici: Masters of Florence,” produced by Italy’s Lux Vide, a big Euro series specialist and Spotnitz’s Big Light Productions, and “Four Seasons in Havana,” from Spain’s Tornasol, an Academy Award winning movie production company (“The Secret in Their Eyes”) also moving into TV.

Co-created by Nicholas Meyer (“Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”), “Medici: Masters of Florence” proved one of the highlights of this month’s MipDrama Screenings where Spotnitz, Lux Vide and Wild Bunch TV screened a promo and three excerpts. Set between 1429-34, “Medici” portrays the life-defining struggle of Cosimo Medici to sustain his family’s banking business whose wealth allowed the artistic glory of the Renaissance to flower – with Brunelleschi solving the challenge of completing the Florence Cathedral Dome, for instance.

Framed by a murder mystery which adds suspense to the mix as Cosimo strives to discover who murdered his father, Giovanni Medici (Hoffman), and stunning in its costumes, décor and real-life locations, the very same places which the Medicis once knew, “Medici: Masters of Florence” has already been renewed for a second season by anchor broadcaster RAI, the Italian public broadcaster.

The French deal with Altice’s SFR Play is validation of Wild Bunch’s move into TV. More international distribution deals will be announced shortly, Wild Bunch said Wednesday.

For Patrick Drahi’s Altice Group, whose purchase of New York’s Cablevision is pending regulatory approval, the purchase reps a high-profile move into the first-run premium TV business at a company, cable-mobile phone operator Numericable-SFR, which has struggled to staunch cell-phone client churn at SFR, which Altice bought from Vivendi in 2014. 2015 results, with Numericable-SFR revenues dropping a year-on-year 3.5% to €11.039 billion ($12.2 billion), did show a first uptick in mobile customers at SFR since Drahi took over. But they did little to stop analysts’ carp that Altice is still weak on “marketing, content and customer experience,” in the words of Francois Godard, at Enders Analysis.

In November, Altice bid aggressively, paying a reported handsome €300 million ($333 million) to snag rights to English Premier League soccer rights in France. TV series can be a more economical way of consolidating a signature brand at an SVOD service, however. Here, Wild Bunch TV can work a two-way street: Helping to initiate Zive series as a co-producer; or bringing already originated series to SFR Play, as it also sells them to the rest of the world.

More TV

  • William Bogert Dead: 'Small Wonder' Actor

    William Bogert, Who Appeared in 'War Games,' 'Small Wonder,' Dies at 83

    TV, film and theater actor William Bogert, who appeared in a recurring role on 1980s sitcom “Small Wonder” and in films such as “War Games,” died Jan. 12 in New York. He was 83. On “Small Wonder,” which ran from 1985 to 1989, Bogert played Brandon Brindle, the Lawsons’ neighbor and Harriet’s father who became [...]

  • Editorial Use OnlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    TV Ratings: NFL's AFC, NFC Championship Games Down From 2019

    The NFL’s AFC and NFC championship games made for a blockbuster Sunday of football for CBS and Fox, but viewership of the games that determine the contenders for the Super Bowl was down from 2019 levels. CBS’ AFC championship in the 3 p.m. ET afternoon slot delivered 41.1 million viewers as the Kansas City Chiefs [...]

  • Medici TV Show

    Vuulr Online Rights Market Makes Global Expansion at NATPE

    Singapore-based Vuulr, an online content marketplace for film and TV rights, is expanding from regional to global operations. The move was announced ahead of NATPE, one of the oldest face-to-face TV rights markets, this week launching its tenth edition in Miami, Florida (Jan 21-23). The Vuulr platform is free to use for buyers and for [...]

  • What to Watch on TV This

    What to Watch on TV This Week: ‘Picard' Premieres and 'Shrill' Returns

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Star Trek: Picard” beams into existence on CBS All Access and “Shrill” returns [...]

  • SAG Awards 2020: What You Didn't

    SAG Awards 2020: From Charlize Theron to 'Parasite,' What You Didn't See on TV

    Brad Pitt made a crack about his marriages. Robert De Niro got political. And Jennifer Aniston talked about appearing in a commercial for Bob’s Big Boy. Those were just some of thing that happened on stage at the SAG Awards that were broadcast on TNT/TBS on Sunday night. However, Variety was inside the Shrine Auditorium [...]

  • Edges Unknown

    TCB, Cineflix, All3Media Announce Sales Ahead of NATPE Miami

    Miami’s NATPE market kicks off on Tuesday, but deal announcements are already landing. London-based TCB Media Rights has sold 130 hours of content to Latin America, Cineflix and National Geographic Latin America closed a deal for four titles, and Discovery Latin America picked up popular makeover format “10 Years Younger” from All3Media. TCB’s 130 Hours [...]

  • U.K. Broadcaster Channel 5 Readies Thomas

    U.K. Broadcaster Channel 5 Readies Thomas Markle Documentary

    ViacomCBS-backed U.K. broadcaster Channel 5 will air a 90-minute documentary on Meghan Markle’s father Thomas Markle. Markle and her husband Prince Harry sparked a global media frenzy earlier this month with their decision not to continue as senior members of the British Royal Family. Buckingham Palace announced that the couple are to lose their royal [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content