The conditions are set for an increase in scripted adaptations, argued Tim Westcott of research organization Omdia at Series Mania.
According to the research opening the “With Local Content Going Global, What’s the Future of Scripted Formats?” session on Wednesday, the U.S. has been the biggest and “most enthusiastic” buyer of scripted remakes between 2010 and 2022, with South Korea, Turkey and France also following suit. Drama remakes hit a record high in 2021.
In terms of origination, the U.K. leads with 23 examples and Israel with 17. The most successful format is comedy drama “Shameless,” originally shown on Channel 4 in the U.K., and remade by Showtime in the U.S., with Norway’s “Skam” coming in second.
Successful remakes can be “a few degrees removed” from the original, noted Rodrigo Herrera Ibarguengoytia, senior scripted acquisitions and co-production manager at Red Arrow Studios Intl., mentioning Germany’s “The Last Cop” (“Der letzte Bulle”).
“The French remake provided a parallel alternative to this format. All of the adaptations based on the German show had its original comedic tone, while many producers were more drawn to the French version’s dramatic take.”
French-Canadian production “Plan B” offers similar flexibility, with its French and Belgian adaptations based on season two of the show.
“If a broadcaster was more into crime, they could choose season 3. When you have strong formats that offer a lot of creative flexibility, there will always be an appetite for that.”
Choosing the right partners is also crucial, argued Danna Stern, founder of Israel’s Yes Studios behind “Your Honor” (which topped Series Mania in 2017) or “On the Spectrum.”
“In scripted formats, you have to sell to a creative person, and have a sense of whether these are the right people to go on this very lengthy journey with,” she said, adding that one still needs to spend three years on average on any scripted adaptation.
As writers can be reluctant to write for formats, both for financial and creative reasons, sometimes it’s necessary to “find passion” somewhere else, argued Mother Production’s Harold Valentin. For example in a producer.
“What’s very important is the choice of the producer who will be able to make an adaptation, sell it and create a new series,” agreed Emmanuelle Guilbart, joint CEO and founder at About Premium Content, behind recent remakes of Norwegian drama “Valkyrien,” “Temple” (Sky One) with Mark Strong, and “Keeping Faith,” remade for TF1 as “Gloria.”
“It’s easy to sell plenty of options everywhere, but it’s crucial [to make sure] it doesn’t stay on the shelf. You need to find a producer who is good enough and motivated enough to make it through.”
Valentin – behind “Call My Agent!” – also opened up about the much-anticipated U.K. remake of the hit show about a Parisian talent agency, which will launch on Amazon.
“It was the one we got involved in the most, because when you have an English-language remake, it’s a much bigger market and it can also damage the original,” he said, noting that the popularity of the original doesn’t prevent people from wanting to watch a show about their own culture.
“In France, we are more upfront. We shout at each other and can be a bit nasty. In the U.K., they are more polite, so there was a lot of mumbling. It has different characters, very lovable and very British,” he added, arguing that “people come for the stars and stay for the agents.”
As Netflix and other streamers are changing the business, people are “censoring themselves” for fear of what a streamer is going to ask or want, observed Stern.
“A French producer, about to produce a show for a streamer, wanted us to hold back the entire world for this one adaptation,” she said. Also commenting on the remakes’ changing titles, as exemplified by autism-centered “On the Spectrum” becoming “As We See It” in the U.S.
“We like to be a part of this conversation, more so to prevent the broadcasters from doing something stupid. But we are never going to presume to know what is going to work best in a local market. I wouldn’t tell Emmy-winning showrunner Jason Katims, himself a father to an autistic child, what to call his show. Because now, it’s his show.”