Newen Connect, which is attending Canneseries with Stefano Lodovichi’s mafia thriller “Christian” playing in main competition, is growing its slate of English-language and international shows through partnerships with third-party producers and talents.
Bringing together the commercial activities of Newen Group, TF1 Studio and ReelOne International, Newen Connect has just signed a deal with Swedish banner Mopar Studios to co-develop and distribute globally two ambitious political thrillers, “9th Dynasty” and “The Walls Between Us.”
An epic love story spanning 30 years in the late 20th century, “The Walls Between Us” follows the dangerous and compromised lives of three former students through the Cold War, rise of terrorism, and political shifts of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
“9th Dynasty,” meanwhile, deals with the abuse of personal data sharing and how destructive it can be. The series follows two young analysts – one English, one Chinese – who seek to uncover the truth about the murder of a colleague and expose an AI scandal with far reaching consequences.
“We were struck by Mopar’s creative ambition for ‘9th Dynasty’ and ‘The Wall Between Us’ and the international appeal of their storylines,” said Rodolphe Buet, Newen Connect’s chief business officer. The executive said espionage or political thrillers were always in demand and could travel easily in international markets.
Co-founded by former SF Studios’ boss Jonas Fors, Mopar Studios is dedicated to creating English-language dramas with strong Nordic and European roots. The banner has recently completed “Red Election” which just premiered on Viaplay in Scandinavia.
Newen Connect has also boarded several other shows from third-party producers, notably “Ammo,” “Prométhée,” “Touchées” and “Polar Park.”
“Polar Park,” produced by 247Max for Arte, was penned and directed by Gérald Hustache-Matthieu, expanding on the plot of his 2011 film “Nobody Else But You.” The series stars Rouve as David Rousseau, a bestselling crime novelist looking for inspiration who travels to his hometown and starts witnessing a series of mysterious murders. Each case appears to be inspired by his previous novels and seem orchestrated as famous art works by Andy Warhol and Van Gogh, among others.
“‘Polar Park’ is a dark-edged thriller with a great dry humor, and it illustrates our ambition to accompany key producers and talent, for instance Jean-Paul Rouve who is making his acting debut in this series,” said Karine Atlan, head of acquisitions and international co-productions at Newen Connect.
“Touchées” wwighs in as a 90-minute TV movie produced by Nord-Ouest, one of France’s leading film production banners, and directed by popular French actor Alexandra Lamy. Commissioned by TF1, the inspirational film is inspired by Quentin Zuttion’s comic book and stars Mélanie Doutey, Claudia Tagbo and Chloé Jouannet as three survivors of physical abuse who cross paths at a therapeutical fencing program.
“Prométhée,” a procedural produced by UGC for TF1, follows a teenage girl who gets brutally hit by a car in a forest in strange circumstances. Although she miraculously survives without any broken bones, she loses her memory. Guided by her visions and some of her friends, she sets out to find out what happened to her.
Atlan said “Prométhée” was “part of TF1’s new vein of procedurals and thriller series targeting a younger demo than the network’s traditional target audience.” She added that the originality of the series is that the story is told through the perspective of the main character, a 17 year-old.
Buet said the company will be doubling the volume of series it handles, from 20 in 2020 to 40 in 2022. “Thanks to Karine Atlan’s efforts, we’ve been able to accelerate our sourcing and development activities and work closely with producers,” said Buet.
Newen Connect is also working with veteran executives such as Andrew Sime and Eleanor Coleman to increase its input in format sales, as well as animation. Its next step will be to strengthen its footprint in documentaries by supporting CAPA which specializes among others in investigative documentaries, sometimes premium productions. Newen Connect has also reorganized its French film and TV activities, mainly TF1 Studio and Newen, to have them both under the same umbrella, which will be headed by Leona Connell, EVP of distribution for Newen Connect. For international film distribution the business remaining under Sabine Chemaly’s responsibilities.
The outfit recently acquired Berlin-based Flare Entertainment which co-produced spy show “Balaton Brigade” with Joyride in Hungary. Newen Connect is handling sales on the series and is now looking for a German showrunner and broadcaster.
Competing at Canneseries, “Christian” is produced by Lucky Red for Sky Italia and stars Edoardo Pesce (“Dogman,” “Romanzo Criminale”) as a man who earns his living doing dirty work for the neighborhood’s kingpin. When stigmata appear on his hands, Christian finds it to be physically impossible to carry out his work. He also discovers he has gained mysterious healing powers.
Speaking about “Christian,” Buet said the premium show was skewed towards pay TV or platform distribution rather than free-to-air broadcasters.
Buet said in principle Newen Connect is always open to work with global services but “isn’t interested in a take-the-money-and-run approach.”
“Traditional channels can also build powerful series franchises with a localized marketing approach,” said Buet, citing the success of Vincent Jamain’s “High Intellectual Potential” which has broken ratings records in France on TF1 and on RAI in Italy. A second season is starting production in the next two weeks.
Newen Connect is also at Mipcom with the animation series “Imago.” It will receive a showcase screening hosted by French film-TV promotion org UniFrance.