“Game of Thrones” co-executive producer Vince Gerardis is developing “Provvidenza,” a prequel to Italy’s national literary classic “I Promessi Sposi” (The Betrothed) to be set in a 16th-century plague-stricken Milan that is dirty, dark, lethal and corrupt.
After setting up a Rome-based company called CIAO, Gerardis — who specializes in packaging big world-building film and TV projects based on literary properties, such as “Game of Thrones” — has now partnered with Italian publisher Rizzoli which in October will publish a “Promessi Sposi” prequel novel, written by young Italian scholar Francesco Musesti and titled “Lodovico.”
Gerardis has also teamed up with Rome-based producer Maria Grazia Saccà, who is heading up his Italian outpost. They have started shopping the project to broadcasters and streamers.
The prequel novel is centered around the backstory of the character of Friar Christopher, who before converting, murdered a nobleman in a duel, and also that of other characters in the Italian classic: the ruthless aristocratic male known as The Unnamed; a thug named Griso; the pious Cardinal Borromeo; and the novel’s modest female protagonist Lucia, whose backstory in the prequel becomes imbued with witchcraft.
The prequel TV series spinoff of the gothic tale follows the travails of two lovers amid wars, famine, bread riots and the plague, and will retain the novel’s same apocalyptic backdrop, albeit almost 40 years earlier, which is an important element.
“In the novel, the plague changes the destiny of the main character [Renzo],” said Saccà, who called the prequel TV project “very current,” due to COVID-19.
“In our story the plague is a central element like winter in ‘Game of Thrones,'” she noted.
“I believe that within ‘Promessi Sposi’ and their surrounding world, there is something greater to optimize,” Gerardis said. “It’s a no-brainer for Italy,” he added. “If ever there was a property to do some kind of business beyond film content, this should be it.”
“Provvidenza” is being shopped as a dark tragedy set in a cruel but still entirely human-centered society with the nocturnal and psychological elements of some of the “Batman” movies; the carnal and spiritual aesthetic of Caravaggio paintings; and “Game of Thrones”-type storylines.
Gerardis will be travelling to Italy in July to attend the Audio-Visual Producers Summit, organized by Italy’s TV producers’ association APA and the Producers Guild of America in the southern town of Matera.
CIAO, which stands for Creatività Italiana Americana Organizzata, or organized Italian/American creativity, is represented internationally by CAA Global TV agent Micheal Gordon.