PARIS — Lagardere Studios, France’s second biggest independent production company, is aiming to expand its reach across Europe.
Last may, Lagardère Studios bought a 82% share of Grupo Boomerang TV, one of Spain’s leading production companies, and is now about to launch Boomerang in Italy, another key European market for Lagardere where Boomerang is already a well-known brand with such hit daily soaps as “The Secret of Old Bridge” and “Acacias 38,” which air on Mediaset Italia’s Canale 5. Boomerang produced approximately 1,200 hours of programming (scripted and unscripted) last year, notably “The Mysteries of Laura,” which sparked an NBC remake, as well as “The Time in Between,” a period espionage thriller sold worldwide including to Netflix in Latin America.
Through Boomerang, Lagardere is also establishing a presence in Latin America. Boomerang is indeed developing two scripted series through its Chilean subsidiary, BCL Producciones, and is looking to expand in Colombia and Mexico next, explained Lagardere Studios president Takis Candilis.
“Europe remains our main playground and with Boomerang, we’re already production leaders in two major European markets — France and Spain — and soon in Italy. We now aim at investing further in booming markets such as Latin America,” said Candilis, adding that Lagardere has also invested in Africa, where several productions have been launched and greenlit.
Italy has also been a strategic territory for another French media giant, Vivendi, which has just forged a pay-TV alliance with Mediaset Premium and is in advanced negotiations to acquire a stake in Cattleya.
Meanwhile, Lagardere Studios is also ramping up its international profile through ambitious drama projects such as “Midnight Sun,” developed and produced by one of the company’s subsidiary, Atlantique Productions. “Midnight Sun” was commissioned by Canal Plus and SVT, making it the first drama co-production between France and Sweden. Produced by Atlantique, Nice Drama and Filmpool, the show made its premiere at MIPTV’s inaugural drama screening and will next play at the upcoming Series Mania fest in Paris.
Atlantique Prods, headed by industry vet Olivier Bibas and “The Returned” producer Jimmy Desmarais (who joined the company in October), is developing a flurry of international, high-concept drama series with foreign partners, including “Eden,” a French-German contemporary political drama to be directed by “Deutschland 83” helmer Edward Berger and dealing with the refugee crisis.
Ordered by Arte Deutschland, Arte France and German net SWR, “Eden” chronicles the escalation and consequences of a crisis that erupts following the killing of an African boy by a security guard in an empty holiday home in Greece. The miniseries follows the lives of a European politician who starts a career in the private security sector in France, a Syrian dissident in Austria who is feeling homesick, a prejudiced German family, a young refugee with nothing to lose and a Greek security officer.
“Eden,” currently at script stage, is being written by Berger, Nele Müller-Stoffen, Marianne Wendt, Jano Ben Chabane, Felix Randau and Laurent Mercier. The series will be pitched at Series Mania’s co-production mart.
Atlantique Productions is also co-developing “Django,” a reimagining of Sergio Corbucci’s iconic Western movie, with Cattleya. Atlantique has acquired the rights to develop and produce an English-language TV series based on Corbucci’s classic 1966 pic which starred Franco Nero.
The French outfit said the 12-part, one-hour series would have “its roots in the high-concept spaghetti Western tradition, but with the grit and edginess of modern television dramas.”
Another TV drama on Atlantique’s development slate is “Métal Hurlant Chronicles,” an English-language reboot based on the cult sic-fi anthology.