EXCLUSIVE: Luc Besson’s thriller Taken, starring Liam Neeson as a retired CIA operative on a one-man mission to save his kidnapped daughter, struck a cord with viewers, becoming a surprise boxoffice hit that spawned two sequels and turned Neeson into an unlikely 60-year-old action star. Now Besson is expanding the Taken franchise into television with a prequel drama about a young Bryan Mills, which has landed a straight-to-series order at NBC. Search is underway for a writer/showrunner to spearhead the adaptation. The series will be a co-production between Besson’s studio EuropaCorp. and Universal TV.
I hear in Taken the series, Bryan Mills, the character played by Neeson in the movies, is a young man with no wife and kids. The series’ premise pays an homage to the movies as it references one of the films’ most popular quotes, part of Mill’s famous speech to one of the thugs suspected in the kidnapping of his daughter, “What I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career; Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.” The series will focus on how Mills acquires his “very particular set of skills” and becomes the character we all know. The series will bend time as it will be set in modern day, not decades in the past.
Taken is the first of several EuropeCorp series developed in the US by the company’s Los Angeles-based operation, EuropaCorp Television U.S., run by president Matthew Gross. These projects do not use the company’s European model but are American series developed for and sold to U.S. networks first.
Executive producing Taken are Besson, who co-wrote the three movies in addition to producing the feature franchise, Gross and France-based EuropaCorp Television co-chairs Edouard de Vesinne and Thomas Anargyros.
I hear EuropaCorp. and Universal TV are in a 50-50 partnership on Taken, with Universal TV handling international distribution except for France where the show will be sold by EuropaCorp.
NBC already has been in business with EuropaCorp TV, acquiring the US rights to Taxi Brooklyn, the company’s a New York-based English-language TV spinoff of another hit action franchise by Besson, the French hit Taxi. Other Besson movies that have been turned into series include La Femme Nikita and Transporter.