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Screen Adaptations Bring Name Advantage to MIPTV

Adaptations of existing intellectual property are popular both domestically and worldwide, whether it’s “Hang Ups,” a British adaptation of Lisa Kudrow’s “Web Therapy” starring Stephen Mangan, or the numerous recent projects based on existing novels.

Red Arrow Studios Intl. brings season four of “Bosch,” based on the novels by Michael Connelly, to MIP this month.

“The bigger the IP is, the bigger the name of the writer is, the bigger the chances are of success around the globe,” says Red Arrow Intl. president Henrik Pabst. “When you speak to buyers on the scripted side, the moment you can bring in a built-in audience it is clearly an upside. The channel or platform doesn’t need to start from scratch. The brand already exists and with social media you reach everybody.”

After its success with “The Night Manager,” based on the novel by John le Carre, the Ink Factory returns to MIP with another le Carre adaptation, “The Little Drummer Girl,” which stars Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Shannon.

“I’m based in the U.K. and we are seeing a lot of adaptations of novels and I think that’s true in most of continental Europe as well,” says Simon Cornwell, who co-founded the Ink Factory with brother Stephen. They are sons of le Carre.

“The vast majority of television shows are original creations for TV, but I think it tends to be when you get to the high end people often look for adaptations,” he continues.

Stephen Cornwell credits the appetite for novel adaptations in part to the revival of limited series.

“When you’re looking for stories of substance and length and accessibility and also material that really attracts talent, then a very natural inclination is to look at novels,” he says.

And Simon Cornwell adds the amount of effort an author puts into a book lends itself well to other formats for the story.

“At a very crude level, a novel is a story which a writer has typically spent plus or minus three years working on and really thinking through the details of character, the beats of the narrative, so in terms of a robust structure for a story, a book is a pretty good place to look,” he says.
Lionsgate president of international television and digital distribution Peter Iacono acknowledges a show’s pitch can vary by foreign market, including for the upcoming “Sweetbitter,” based on the novel by Stephanie Danler. She also serves as writer and executive producer on the series.

“Every market has different nuances,” Iacono says. “I would say the essence of it — 85% of the approach — is pretty much universal, and maybe 20% is about market specifics and it’s really about finding the right [channel or platform] home.”

Pabst agrees that marketing hooks vary.

“It can be a director, it can be a writer, it can be the amount of books sold [by] the author in that territory, it can be an actor,” Pabst says. “It’s [a question] of what can you take out of the package to market it better.”
For action-spy thriller “Killing Eve,” based on the novellas by Luke Jennings, the creative auspices of the TV series became important, says Lorenzo De Maio, agent at Endeavor Content.

“One element is the book and one element is [executive producer] Phoebe Waller-Bridge. On the back of the success of ‘Fleabag,’ she is a massive element,” he says. “And I think the biggest thing for this show is these really amazing female characters. That’s why every buyer responded. They felt it was really fresh to do a James Bond thing with real, grounded female characters and not the stereotype of the assassins, not the stereotype of the [secret] agents, but real women in those roles from a female producer and a female writer.”

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