In a pioneering alliance, Starzplay is partnering with Studiocanal, Europe’s leading film-TV production-distribution-sales company, on Starzplay’s first French co-production, the series “All Those Things We Never Said.”
Adapting the bestselling novel of the same title by Marc Levy, France’s most-read living author, the comedy-drama series is commissioned by Starzplay and Studiocanal parent, Vivendi’s Canal Plus Group — Europe’s second-biggest pay TV/SVOD operator.
Written by Levy, who will also showrun, the 10-part half-hour series has just initiated principal photography, starring Jean Reno (“Leon: The Professional,” “The Da Vinci Code”) and Alexandra Maria Lara (“The Reader,” “Rush”). Studiocanal will handle international sales outside Starzplay and CPG’s extensive distribution footprints.
Levy’s original novel was published in 2008. Described by Studiocanal, Starzplay and CPG as “a bittersweet comedy with soul” and “wryly fun,” it taps into human relations — a reconnection with a father and a lost first love; a second chance at life — which carries new meaning as many parts of the world seem to be emerging from COVID-19.
In the series, set three days before Julia’s wedding, she receives a phone call to say that her father, true to form, will not be attending the ceremony. For once, he has a good excuse: He’s dead.
Substituting her wedding for his funeral, Julia receives a tall wooden crate one day later containing a life-size android that’s the spitting image of her father. The android has her father’s memory and a seven-day battery life. He convinces Julia to go on a road trip to make up for lost time, which includes looking for Tomas, Julia’s first love, a journalist she met during the fall of the Berlin Wall who she thought had died on assignment.
“Cleverly playing across two timelines and set in the heart-stoppingly beautiful European cities of Paris, Bruges, Berlin and Madrid, this original and ambitious, character-driven series is a unique family comedy drama with a quirky fantasy twist,” Studiocanal, Starzplay and the Canal Plus Group said in a statement on Tuesday.
“All Those Things We Never Said” is co-written by and directed by Miguel Courtois (“El Lobo,” “GAL”). It also stars Spain’s Alex Brendemühl (“Madre”) and the French actor known as Ben (“Une Belle Histoire”).
The French-language drama is produced by Levy, Susanna Lea, Alain Pancrazi (“Holy Lands”) and Jean-Baptiste Frey (“For The Ones We Loved”) for France’s TCC, and by Studiocanal CEO Anna Marsh and Françoise Guyonnet, its executive managing director of TV series.
Dealing in universal human bonds and experience, though varied in output, Levy has published 22 novels since his first, “If Only It Were You,” issued in 2000. It was adapted by DreamWorks as U.S. box office chart topper “Just Like Heaven,” starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo.
Levy has sold more than 50 million copies – 2.5 million in China alone – since “If Only It Were You.” During the 2020 lockdown, the two French novelists most read by Americans were Albert Camus and Marc Levy, Studiocanal, Starzplay and Canal Plus Group said Tuesday.
Taking over as Studiocanal CEO in Dec. 2019, Marsh told Variety that Studiocanal would work more closely with parent Canal Plus Group and ramp up series production. The Starzplay deal sees one of Europe’s most ambitious companies — recent Studiocanal sales and production hits include “It’s a Sin,” “Patrick Melrose,” “ZeroZeroZero” and “Paris Police 1900” — allying with one of the U.S.’ most expansive premium international SVOD platforms.
Since its launch in May 2018, Starzplay has expanded into 56 countries and struck a string of robust carriage deals. One of the latest is with Canal Plus for France.
In a territory split, Starzplay will release “All Those Things We Never Said” for first run in the U.K. and Ireland, Germany and German-speaking Europe, and Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Italy and Latin America, including Brazil. It will take second-run distribution in France.
The Canal Plus Group footprint for the deal includes France and French-speaking territories, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, French-speaking Africa, Myanmar and Vietnam. Studiocanal holds rights to the series for the rest of the world.