Robert Lantos’ Serendipity Point Films (“Crimes Of The Future”) and Beta Film (“Gomorrah,” “Babylon Berlin”) are joining forces on “Rise of the Raven” (working title), a big-budget epic drama series about Janos Hunyadi, a fearless warrior who defeated the vast Ottoman army and defended Europe in 1456 at the Battle of Belgrade.
Based on Bán Mór’s bestselling novels, the 10-hour series will be showrun by award-winning director George Mihalka who will also direct the final three episodes. Mihalka’s drama credits include NBC’s “The Firm,” TNT’s “Transporter: The Series” and Showtime’s “Bullet to Beijing.” He’s also the recipient of the Directors’ Guild of Canada’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Robert Dornhelm, whose most recent TV series include “Vienna Blood” with Matthew Beard and “Maria Theresa,” will direct the first two episodes of “Rise of the Raven.” Dornhelm previously directed Emmy and Oscar-nominated productions such as “Anne Frank: The Whole Story” with Sir Ben Kingsley, “Children of Theatre Street” with Grace Kelly, as well as “The Venice Project” starring Lauren Bacall and Dennis Hopper. Orsi Nagypal, whose credits include “The Deal,” will also direct some episodes. The series is written by George Mihalka, Balázs Lengyel, Balázs Lovas, Zsófia Ruttkay and Attila Veres.
Set in 15th century medieval Europe, “Rise of the Raven” is currently in pre-production and casting is underway. Beta Film is already in advanced negotiations with leading European broadcasters.
“Through sheer courage and cunning, Janos Hunyadi defeated the far larger invading Ottoman army and in so doing saved Europe,” said Lantos, who is also producing David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future” with Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Stewart.
“For the past ten years, I have been working with my creative partners to adapt Bán Mór’s extraordinarily powerful 10-volume historic fiction for the screen. In Beta Film, I have found an ally who shares our ambitious vision,” Lantos added.
The show is a passion project for Mihalka who said he has dreamed of returning to Hungary, “and work in (his) homeland and native language.” He said it will be “the first international limited series produced and shot in Hungary.”
The creative also said the true story of Hunyadi was “universal in scope and theme,” even if it’s specific to Central Europe. “It is a saga of bravery, love, perseverance, the fight for freedom, and the eventual victory over forces that threatened not only his homeland but the rest of Europe.”
The series is financed by the National Film Institute of Hungary, Serendipity Point Films, Twin Media, HG Media, MR Film and Beta Film. TV2 will broadcast the show in Hungary and Slovenia.
Lantos, who is executive producing the series, is a high-profile veteran producer with credits ranging from arthouse films such as the Berlin award winner “Museo”; Cannes award winner “Adoration”; Oscar-nominated “Eastern Promises” and “Being Julia”; and Cannes jury prize winner “Crash.” His TV credits include HBO’s “Shot Through the Heart” and “Sword of Gideon,” CBS’s “Due South” and Showtime’s “Total Recall.”
Also producing the series are HG Media Group founder Tibor Krsko (“The Song of Names”), Cecilia Hazai, and Kinga Hazai as well as Oliver Auspitz and Andreas Kamm of MR Film (“Vienna Blood”).
“In the 15th Century, Hunyadi’s victories changed the course of European history. Our objective is to bring this story to audiences worldwide by creating a high-end series drawing on talent from all over Europe,” says Csaba Káel, government commissioner for the development of the Hungarian film industry and chairman of the National Film Institute of Hungary.
Koby Gal-Raday, Beta Film’s CCO described “Rise of the Raven” as a “one-of-a-kind, cinematic, and epic story, very much relevant to today’s audiences worldwide.” Gal-Raday said the “high quality of the scripts, the international talent leading the show, and the ambitious production vision” gave the series project a “high global potential.”