EXCLUSIVE: Hit French series The Returned (Les Revenants) is getting an American remake. A&E Network has nabbed rights to the supernatural/suspense drama, which will be developed as a co-production between A+E Studios and FremantleMedia North America. There is no writer in place but I hear the network is in discussions with Carlton Cuse, executive producer/co-showrunner of A&E’s breakout hit Bates Motel to take on the adaptation.

Created by Fabrice Gobert, Les Revenants was inspired by the 2004 feature film by the same name directed by Robin Campillo (English-language title They Came Back). It focuses on a small town that is turned upside down when several local people who have been long presumed dead suddenly reappear, having not aged and unaware of their own fatality. As they attempt to resume their lives, strange phenomena and gruesome murders begin to occur. “The Returned takes an incredibly unique approach, filled with suspense and twists and turns, to the subject of the living dead,” said A&E’s EVP and general manager David McKillop. Added FMNA CEO Thom Beers, “Having seen Fabrice Gobert’s original version and the success the series has had in France, we’re thrilled to be partnering with the team at A+E to bring this enigmatic thriller to U.S. audiences.”

The Returned is a hit in France, where it debuted last fall on Canal Plus, and also has done very well in the UK where it airs on Channel 4 as Rebound (check out the subtitled trailer below). A second season is slated to come out next year. Sundance Channel recently acquired the eight-episode first season for a Halloween debut, while Music Box Films is planning a January VOD/DVD U.S. release.

The premise of The Returned draws parallels to the upcoming ABC drama series Resurrection, which was based on Jason Mott’s novel, also titled The Returned. There had been speculation about the similarities between Mott’s debut novel, which wasn’t published until this fall, and the French film and series that preceded it. The rights to Mott’s book sparked a bidding war late last fall, landing at Brad Pitt’s Plan B and ABC Studios which sold the project to ABC. A&E’s The Returned is co-produced by the recently launched A+E Studios and FMNA in association with Haut et Court TV SAS, producer of the French series. FremantleMedia will distribute the series internationally, excluding the U.S. and Canada. The executives overseeing the project are Beers and Craig Cegielski for FMNA and Bob DeBitetto for A+E Studios. In addition to Bates Motel, former Lost co-showrunner Cuse is executive producing/showrunning FX’s high-profile drama The Strain.