Walter Presents Takes U.K. to Russia’s Top TV Show ‘Russian Affairs’ (EXCLUSIVE)

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Walter Presents, the expanding streaming service for non-English-language drama, has acquired U.K. rights to “Russian Affairs,” a glossy drama about power, money, and sex in present-day Russia that is currently the number one TV show in its home country where the local title translates as “Gold Diggers.”

The ensemble series, which is produced by Russia’s Yellow, Black & White Studios, was picked up earlier this year under the title “Russian Affairs” by Amazon Prime Video as an exclusive for Germany, France and the Netherlands.

The deal with Walter Presents, which is a unit of the U.K.’s Channel 4, was negotiated on behalf of YBW by French based distributor Oble and will mark the show’s debut on the Anglo-Saxon market. Walter Presents will rebrand “Russian Affairs” as “Gold Diggers.” It was announced during the Roskino Key Buyers Event: Digital Edition market.

Produced by Russia’s Start Studios, the “Dynasty”-like drama set amid Russia’s elite has consistently scored stellar results on its home turf where the second season, launched in Spring 2020 on Start’s premium streaming platform, is currently the country’s top-rated show. Season three is in development.

The eight-episode show is shepherded by Russian showrunners Konstantin Bogomolov – previously known as the “enfant terrible” of the Russian theater – and Irina Sosnovaya and penned by Bogomolov.

“Together they’ve created an absorbing web of plot and character-driven storylines, along with plenty of intrigue, all set against a backdrop of ostentatious wealth – an exciting glimpse of a rarely seen lifestyle, with a liberal dose of drama,” Daria Bondarenko, exec VP international sales and co-pros, at Yellow, Black and White said in a statement. 

Bondarenko noted that “the Anglo-speaking market is still fairly dominant in content production” which makes the Walter Presents deal particularly important for her company, both in terms of audience penetration and as a stepping stone to potential co-production partnerships.

Walter Presents, which is hosted by London-based Italian TV buff Walter Iuzzolino, first launched its curated selection of subtitled drama series via Channel 4’s video streaming platform All 4 in the U.K. in 2016. Walter Presents, which is carried in several other countries including the U.S., Italy, and Australia, says it recently passed more than 100 million views.

Iuzzolino called “Gold Diggers” “a glamorous modern-day ‘Dynasty’ set amongst the rich and beautiful in contemporary Moscow.”

“It’s a sassy, lavish and unmissable saga of lost innocence, sexual manipulation and greed, and unlike any Russian series I have ever seen before,” he said in the statement.

Yellow Black and White Group is one of Russia’s leading entertainment groups, known for production and theatrical distribution of feature films, as well as for its television production unit, Start Studios, and its premium Russian streaming platform, Start.  

They are the first company to produce with Disney in Russia, and also the first to secure deals with Amazon, for “Russian Affairs,” and also with Netflix, for their sci-fi series “Better Than Us.” Other indications of YBW’s increasing international visibility are the fact that their series “257 Reasons to Live,” being sold worldwide by Beta Film, has been selected for the 2020 Canneseries festival, and another new YBW show, “Hope,” made the cut for digital Series Mania.