Director Peter Webber is preparing a six-part series sequel to his Colombia-set teen drama “Pickpockets” (“Maestros del robo”), which Netflix launched globally in 2018. The film tells the story of aspiring teenage thieves learning how to be successful pickpockets.
“Apparently, it did really well amongst teenagers,” Webber told Variety. “They asked us to do a sequel, so at the moment we are working on six one-hour episodes following up the main characters.”
Netflix is not believed to be officially attached to the sequel, which is still in development stages.
It’s understood that the project will have a broader scope than the film. “As the series develops, the locations change,” Webber said. “It’s a bit more international than the last one.”
British native Webber is currently at the El Gouna Film Festival, where he is serving as jury president of the Feature Narrative Competition section. The jury also comprises iconic Egyptian actor Asser Yassin, “You Will Die at Twenty” writer-director Amjad Abu Alala, Chilean director Rodrigo Sepúlveda, as well as producer Thierry Lenouvel, co-founder of Cinemed – Mediterranean Film Festival Montpellier.
Webber also updated Variety on the state of play of his long gestating “The Medusa” project, as well as revealing that he is working on a spread of projects, one of which is a Spanish television series idea, which he shot a trailer for remotely during the global pandemic.
Webber said he is still trying to bring “The Medusa” to movie theaters. The period drama set in post-Napoleonic France, centering on the artist and enfant-terrible Théodore Géricault, whose best-known painting is “The Raft of the Medusa,” was set to go into production in 2017 with Pierce Brosnan, Jesse Eisenberg and Vanessa Redgrave attached.
“We’ve come very close a number of times, but it can be tricky with a film like that,” Webber said. “The world isn’t as interested in films about artists as it was when I made ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring.’ The market has changed. Sometimes, films like this can take 10 years to get to the screen.”
It’s why Webber has several irons in the fire at one-time. During the lockdown, he shot a trailer for a Spanish-language television series that will be pitched to Spanish broadcasters in the coming weeks. It was the only shoot Webber has done during the COVID-19 hiatus. “The studio and actor were in Madrid, while I was in Andalusia,” Webber said. “The producer didn’t want me to travel and they couldn’t get insurance for me. So, I had two screens set up, with two video feeds, and it was an enormous pain, frankly.”
Webber is riding high in the Arab world, after the recent unveiling of his Arabic-language television series “Kingdoms of Fire,” about the reign of the Ottoman Empire’s Selim I and Mamluk Sultanate’s Tuman Bay II, which aired on MBC channels. Its success has “partly been because it’s written from an Arabic rather than Ottoman point of view,” Webber said. “When I got the call to do it, it sounded like a crazy adventure, and I like crazy adventures.”
The British director of “Hannibal Rising” and “Emperor” admits he doesn’t have such fond memories of shooting the miniseries “Tutankhamun” for Britain’s ITV. “I’m not interested in doing the standard episodic stuff out of the U.K.,” explained Webber. “It’s important to have fun rather than executives looking over your shoulder the whole time. This whole industry has become more controlled than it used to be. When I did ‘Tutankhamun,’ I had not done British television in a long time, and I was surprised by how centralized the control was.”
As president of the El Gouna jury, he said he’s looking for films, “that move me. I don’t care about something which shows technical flair; the winner will have to show some originality. We spend so much time watching stuff that for something to connect is quite a task. It encourages me that there is still some left-field, art-house style work going on out there.”