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Wassim Beji, the French producer of “Boite noire,” and SND have acquired the adaptation rights to iconic French detective novels “Fantomas” and are planning a film and a series based on the franchise.

A ruthless and multi-faceted thief and assassin, Fantomas “was the first occidental super-villain featured in a serialized format, first through comic strips and later in a radio series,” said Beji, adding that “Fantomas” has also been a source of inspiration for some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, including the surrealist poet Guillaume Apollinaire.

Created in 1911 by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, Fantomas is one of France’s most popular fictional characters, along with Arsene Lupin. Fantomas was first adapted for the big screen by into a silent crime film serial directed by Louis Feuillade for Gaumont in 1913. The property was later adapted into a crime comedy trilogy starring Jean Marais and Louis de Fines in 1964. Claude Chabrol and Juan Luis Buñuel also adapted the property into a limited TV series in 1980.

Beji said the film and series which he is starting to develop with SND will mark a return to the dark-edged roots of “Fantomas.” It’s one of the most ambitious projects being currently developed out of France.

Beji and SND most recently teamed on “Abbé Pierre, a Century of Devotion,” a film about France’s most famous Catholic priest. Directed by Frederic Tellier, the film stars Benjamin Lavernhe (“The Speech”) and Emmanuelle Bercot (“Mon Roi”). The pair previously collaborated on “Yves Saint Laurent.” SND is the film studio arm of M6, France’s second biggest commercial network.