London and Rome-based production company Blackbox Multimedia, recently co-founded by former Lionsgate COO Guy Avshalom with Italy’s Guido Brera and Roberta Cardarelli, is developing a slate of high-end skeins for the international market comprising “The Last Cop,” on which they’ve partnered with Keshet International, and also “Murder in Time,” based on a series of thrillers by U.S. writer Julie McElwain.
McElwain’s three “Murder in Time” books, published by Pegasus, revolve around tough FBI agent Kendra Donovan who goes rogue in London in an effort to assassinate the man who killed her team, only to end up in England in the 1800s. Up-and-coming British screenwriter Amanda Duke has written the series bible for this time-travel crime thriller that encapsulates “what Blackbox is trying to do,” says the company’s Head of Development Chiara Cardoso.
Concurrently, the company has also commissioned Spain’s Sergio Barrejon, who served as writer/director on Atresmedia and Netflix’s “La Catedral del Mar” to develop a Spanish-language version of “Murder in Time.”
“We always look for a story that can have a strong local heart…but at same also has potential to be adapted in other territories as well,” she noted. They are developing projects with strong format exploitation potential from the start in English, Italian, French and Spanish.
British screenwriter Roland Moore, who created the BBC’s “Land Girls” and was more recently head writer on the Chinese reboot of AMC’s “Humans,” is in charge of penning “The Last Cop,” based on an original concept. Cardoso described it as a crime procedural set in an alternative present/near future in which there is no crime. “Everyone has been equipped with a crime inhibitor chip that is able to detect violent impulses in the brain,” she said. Against this backdrop, a reluctant former police detective is taken out of retirement to solve a murder, the first in 17 years.
“Cop” and “Murder” were both pitched to prospective buyers at Rome’s MIA market. Other projects in the Blackbox pipeline include a skein that stems from an unspecified property by French writer Tonino Benacquista (“Malavita”) being adapted with a Brit scribe. They have also optioned rights to a novel inspired by the true story of the Arandora Star, a British ship that held hundreds of Italian and German internees and prisoners of war who all lost their lives when it was sunk by a German missile.