The classic French tale of The Phantom Of The Opera is getting a re-imagining as a TV series project written by Tony Krantz, directed by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie), and produced by Endemol Studios, the Los Angeles-based studio operation of Endemol North America. Krantz of Flame Ventures and Jeunet serve as executive producers along with Colin Callender of Playground Entertainment.
Based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, which inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber’s blockbuster musical, the TV series will keep the Paris setting of the book but shift the time period from the 19th century to the early 20th century.
Described as a drama brimming with tortured love affairs, sex, murder and mystery among the international jet set at the dawn of the Jazz Age, the Phantom Of The Opera series is set in 1919 against a backdrop of the Paris Peace Conference. The story centers on a British World War I fighter pilot with burns covering half of his body. He finds himself at the center of a string of murders that threatens to embroil the city’s gathered world leaders. The “Opera” in this re-imagining is an opera house that is home to the hottest nightclub in Paris — think Studio 54 — whose American Josephine Baker-esque headliner finds herself in the cross hairs of the serial killer.
Krantz originally developed his Phantom Of The Opera idea at Alcon Television, which last year commissioned the director-producer to write it as a pilot after reading his feature script (and first thing he’d ever written) Saboteurs — also set in Paris but during World World II. For over a year, Krantz has been working on the project with Callender following their collaboration on the NBC drama series Dracula, which they both executive produced.
Separately, Krantz set up multiple projects with Endemol Studios over the last year, including a horror/sci-fi/thriller anthology drama with producer Jason Blum, which has a script-to-series commitment at NBC, and international medical disaster drama MDX. As part of their relationship with Krantz, Endemol Studios brass read his Phantom script as a writing sample and loved it. Given the project’s international nature, global player Endemol was a perfect partner for the series. Alcon TV stepped aside while retaining a small piece of the show. “As we enjoy working with Tony on a number of projects, I was delighted to discover that the man can really write!” said Endemol Studios EVP Creative Affairs Jeremy Gold. “Rife with vibrant characters and the seductive culture of 1919 Paris, Tony’s Phantom drops us in a provocative world filled with love and loss, secrets, lies and murder.”
Krantz worked on his script with Endemol over the summer, revising it substantially. About four weeks ago, the finished script was sent out to one director only: Amelie visionary Jeunet. “Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a brilliant director and his films are true masterpieces,” Krantz said. “The opportunity to write and produce a story of love, murder and intrigue at the dawn of the New World, interpreted through the eyes of such a master, is quite simply anyone’s dream come true.”
Within a few hours of Jeunet agent Jeff Berg receiving the script, the Phantom team met with the director. He loved the script and committed to the project in about a week for what will mark his first TV directing effort. “I look forward to directing Tony Krantz’s imaginative version of Phantom Of The Opera with Endemol Studios,” Jeunet said. “We have an opportunity to re-tell Gaston Leroux’s classic novel of mystery and intriguing romance against a background of great social change.”
Drew Comins, EVP of Flame Ventures, will serve as co-executive producer on the series.
A couple of weeks ago, ABC bought a Phantom Of The Opera drama series pitch produced by Marc Cherry. It is set in modern-day music business.
“Phantom Of The Opera is one of the most successful pieces of entertainment of all time that has been produced in multiple forms for fans across the globe,” Endemol Studios CEO Philippe Maigret said. “Our combination of exceptional creative talent, complex characters and a wonderfully re-told narrative, will produce a new canvas for a story that has crossed all borders and stood the test of time.”
Three-year-old Endemol Studios has sold 17 projects across TV networks and streaming services. Its AMC series Hell On Wheels is awaiting a fifth-season pickup, and its DirecTV drama Kingdom just received order for 20 more episodes.
Krantz is repped by CAA.