Aside from its slate of international series developed with ZDF and Rai through the Alliance, France Televisions is set to co-produce a flurry of high-profile series aimed at global audiences, notably “Germinal,” “Josephine and Bonaparte” and the adaptation of Guillaume Musso’s bestseller “La jeune fille et la nuit.”
A modern adaptation of Émile Zola’s 1885 masterpiece, “Germinal” tells the story of a coalminers’ strike in northern France in the 1860s. Julien Lilti, the writer of Canal Plus hit series “Hippocrate,” is writing “Germinal” and will likely be collaborating with other writers. Banjiay Rights has come on board to handle international sales on the show which is currently in development.
Nathalie Biancolli, who has been spearheading France Televisions’s push into ambitious international series since joining the company in 2017, told Variety that “Germinal’ continues the pubcaster’s “tradition with historical drama series but will be tackling the genre in a more cinematic and edgier way to appeal to younger people, on top of (its) core audience which is slightly older.”
Biancolli said the adaptation will be faithful to the book and will shoot in French. France Televisions is currently developing “Germinal” alone but ZDF and Rai might join the project at a later stage.
The executive, who is an industry veteran who helped created SND, the commercial division of M6 network, and worked at TF1 for many years, said it was now crucial for the broadcaster to board projects at an early stage, participate in the development and be positioned as co-producers. She said France Televisions also had the ambition to get involved in international co-productions outside of the realms of the Alliance.
“La jeune fille et la nuit,” meanwhile, is a thriller series based on Musso’s book which was the bestselling local novel in France last summer. The novel center on three former college friends who share a tragic secret linked to the disappearance of a classmate 25 years earlier. This series project might shoot in English and is being developed by Sydney Gallonde’s Make it Happen, the outfit behind Harlan Coben’s “No Second Chance.” It will be co-produced with international partners.
“Josephine and Napoleon” is an English-language period drama series created by British showrunner Tony Saint (“Das Boot”). “The Artist” actress Berenice Bejo is set to star as Josephine. The series is based on Andrew Roberts’ “Napoleon: A Life” and Kate Williams’ “The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte.” The British company Ecosse Films (“Hampstead,” “Mistresses”) and Pascal Breton’s Paris-based Federation Entertainment (“The Bureau,” “Marseille”) are co-producing the series, along with France Televisions.
Biancolli said the broadcaster’s development slate also includes a science fiction series, and an historical adventure show. The latter will be a kind of “female-powered Indiana Jones,” said Biancolli, who added that France Televisions was eager to venture off the beaten path and boast a wide range of series, from thrillers to biopics and historical shows.