Italian film and TV company Wildside is ramping up production of TV series for the international market with a trio of high-profile projects based on hot literary properties, spearheaded by the four “The Neapolitan Novels” books by Italian author Elena Ferrante, the latest of which, “The Story of the Lost Child,” has been named one of the 10 Best Fiction Books of 2015 by the New York Times.
Other announced additions to Wildside’s expanded international TV pipeline are serial adaptations of French multihyphenate Emmanuel Carrere’s bestselling biographical novel “Limonov” and of prominent Italian author Niccolò Ammaniti’s apocalyptic, Sicily-set “Anna.”
“The Neapolitan Novels” are being co-produced by Wildside with Domenico Procacci’s Fandango, which owns the rights and originated the project. Fandango was among producers of Sky’s widely sold Neapolitan crime skein “Gomorra.”
The plan is for each of Ferrante’s four tomes, all centered around an intense female friendship set against Italian societal changes from the 1950s to the present, to become an eight-episode series, for a total of 32 episodes dedicated to the multilayered feminist epic of Lena and Lila.
Elena Ferrante — which is a pseudonym — is involved in the development of the project.
Carrere and Oscar-winning director Pawel Pawlikowski (“Ida”) have taken on development stage writing duties on the pluriprized “Limonov,” which is about the adventurous life of Russian poet and vehement Vladimir Putin opponent Eduard Limonov. Limonov was a Soviet underground idol under Leonid Brezhnev; a butler to a millionaire in Manhattan; a writer in Paris; and is now the charismatic leader of Russia’s National Bolshevik Party.
Carrere has written scripts for films and TV series, including Canal Plus’ supernatural 2012 skein “The Returned” (Les Revenants). Pawlikowski is currently on board as “Limonov” scribe, but the next step could see him take on directorial duties on the skein as well.
Ammaniti, many of whose novels have been made into movies — including “I’m Not Scared,” directed by Gabriele Salvatores, and “Me and You,” helmed by Bernardo Bertolucci — is taking on principal scribe duties on Wildside’s “Anna” TV skein adaptation. “Anna” is centered around a 13-year-old Sicilian girl contending with a virus contagion that has killed off all adults. It has elements of “The Walking Dead” and “Hunger Games.”
Wildside, which is seeking international partners for all three projects, intends to mount them using a business model similar to the one they devised for Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Young Pope,” which stars Jude Law as an imaginary pontiff who is the first Italian-American pope in history. “Pope” is co-produced by Wildside and Gaul’s Haut et Court TV with several partners including Rupert Murdoch’s Sky paybox, France’s Canal Plus and HBO, marking the first multiple-broadcaster production of this type in Italy. The “Pope” shoot has just moved to Los Angeles, on February 8, after cameras started rolling in Rome in August 2015. Key “Pope” cast also comprises Diane Keaton, as a nun, James Cromwell, as a cardinal, and Ludivine Sagnier as the wife of a Swiss Guard.
In August 2015 FremantleMedia acquired a controlling stake in Wildside, which was founded in 2009 by producers Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani. The acquisition is deemed part of Fremantle’s strategy to boost its primetime scripted content side at a time when Italy is becoming more prominent in the international TV series arena. Wildside’s recent TV productions include the Italian version of “In Treatment” and “1992,” the Italian skein about Italy’s watershed Clean Hands corruption probe, which played on Sky in Italy, the U.K. and Germany.
FremantleMedia Italy and Wildside, which are run as separate entities, boast combined revenues of Euros 80 million ($89 million) for fiscal 2015 and are forecasting double-digit revenue growth in 2016 to more than Euros 120 million ($133 million).