In today’s Global Bulletin, Amazon Prime Video U.K. scores Lux Vide’s ‘Leonardo,’ HBO Europe unveils release date and first trailer for Swedish docu-series “Pray, Obey, Kill,” Fremantle begins selling Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s “Wellington Paranormal” internationally, and SharpFutures partners with Sky Studios on the new screenwriting training initiative Flip the Script.
Sony Pictures Television has sealed a deal to send one of this year’s most anticipated period dramas, the pan-European co-produced “Leonardo,” to Amazon Prime Video in the U.K. where it will premiere April 16.
“Leonardo” is an eight-part dramatized retelling of the life of the Italian master Leonardo da Vinci, played by Aidan Turner (“The Hobbit” franchise). The series is produced by Lux Vide and Rai Fiction with Big Light Productions in association with France Télévisions and RTVE in Spain.
Other casting includes “The Good Doctor” and “Bates Motel” star Freddie Highmore as an investigator of the Podestà, Oscar-nominated actor Giancarlo Giannini (“Quantum of Solace,” “Seven Beauties”), Berlin EFP Shooting Star Matilda De Angelis, James D’Arcy (“Dunkirk”) and Spanish up-and-comer Carlos Cuevas (“Ministry of Time”).
The series was created by Frank Spotnitz (“X-Files,” “The Man in the High Castle”) and Steve Thompson (“Sherlock”), who also executive produce with Luca Bernabei, Matilde Bernabei, Emily Feller, Daniel Percival and Highmore for Alfresco Pictures, Brendan Fitzgerald for Sony Pictures Television and Sara Melodia, Luisa Cotta Ramosino, and Daniele Passani. Sony is selling internationally.
“’Leonardo’ is a beautiful drama that tells a riveting backstory of one of the most fascinating artistic figures in history,” said U.K. Prime Video head of content Martin Backlund in a statement. “I know our customers will be absorbed from the first episode and we can’t wait to see Aidan Turner back on our screens exclusively to Prime Members in the U.K. and Ireland.”
HBO Europe’s true crime docu-series “Pray, Obey, Kill” will premiere on April 4 in all territories where the platform is available, and launched its first international trailer to accompany the announcement.
Detailing the case of one of Sweden’s highest-profile cases, “Pray, Obey, Kill” sees series creators and journalists Martin Johnson and Anton Berg join “The Bridge” director Henrik Georgsson to investigate what really happened near the sleepy village of Knutby in January 2004 when a young woman was murdered and her neighbor shot several times in what appeared to be a religiously motivated attack.
Georgsson directs the limited series, which is produced by Ruth Reid for Warner Brothers ITVP. Berg, Johnson and Martina Iacobaeus are executive producers alongside HBO Europe’s Hanne Palmquist, Hanka Kastelicová and Antony Root. “Pray, Obey, Kill” is produced by Warner Bros ITVP Sweden for HBO Europe. WarnerMedia International TV Distribution is handling international sales.
Fremantle has secured the rights to Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s New Zealand-set cop mocumentary “Wellington Paranormal,” and has already dealt the series to Sky in the U.K. and Ireland where seasons 1-3 will be available as a boxset starting April 5 on Sky Comedy and Now TV.
The series follows the witless partnership of Minogue and O’Leary, played by Mike Minogue and Karen O’Leary, as they investigate strange phenomena in the New Zealand capital city including ghosts, aliens, vampires, zombies, robots and more. Its delivery and subject matter fit into a niche market which Clement and Waititi have cornered, having made and starred in the 2014 film “What We do in the Shadows,” which spawned HBO’s popular series spinoff.
“Wellington Paranormal” is executive produced by Clement and Waititi for the New Zealand Documentary Board Ltd.
U.K.-based SharpFutures and Sky Studios have partnered to launch Flip the Script, a creative talent development program to train script editors, supported by the ScreenSkills High-end TV Skills Fund. SharpFutures and Sky Drama have collaborated on several shows in recent years, including the upcoming Sky1 program “Intergalactic.”
Focusing on the North West of the U.K., the program was created to inspire and encourage a new generation of writing professionals through the creations of 12 paid placements where talented individuals can develop their writing skills and editorial voice. Online applications are now open.
ScreenSkills has also announced the appointment of “Small Axe” and “The Iron Lady” producer Anita Overland as its new chair of the ScreenSkills Film Skills Council, replacing Applecross Productions’ Iain Smith, who recently stepped down following 12 years with the agency.
Film Skills Council has also welcomed two new members in Lyndsay Duthie, CEO of the Production Guild of Great Britain, and Nadine Marsh-Edwards of Greenacre Films.
France Channels will launch its subscription-based VOD service dedicated to French content in the U.S. during the second trimester of 2021.
The company has raised financing from Vitis, a subsidiary of Netgem, an independent service provider, the animation banner Cyber Group Studios, former Canal Plus president Bertrand Méheut and Julien Verley, who founded France Channels in July 2019.
France Channels has also obtained a loan from IFCIC, the institute for the financing of cinema and cultural industries.
Méheut will take the helm of the supervisory board, which will also comprise Mathias Hautefort, Vitis’ president, and Pierre Sissmann, Cyber Group Studios’ president.
France Channels, which aims at following a similar model to BritBox for British content, will showcase more than 2,000 hours of French programs including movies, TV series, animation and documentaries.
The application was developed by Netgem and will be available on iOS, Android, web browsers (Chrome, Firefox and Edge), as well as on Roku and Struum, Michael Eisner’s platform, in the U.S.