The international drama world is incredibly buoyant, with globally focused scripted co-productions and innovative local series becoming as noteworthy as the plethora of U.S. broadcast series and cable dramas. U.S.-based streaming services and pay networks have been increasingly partnering with British broadcasters and European platforms to produce high-end thrillers, while the broadcast networks continue to scour the globe to remake non-English-language series.
This year’s development season has already seen ABC develop Spanish soap Grand Hotel in association with Eva Longoria and NBC plot a remake of German comedy Danni Lowinski with Glee and Scream Queens co-creator Ian Brennan, along with HBO picking up British period drama Gunpowder, Amazon picking up Sony’s Stana Katic-fronted international thriller Absentia, and Hulu partner with UK’s C4 on The First and Working Title TV on a remake of Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Ten International Formats To Watch For In 2018
But what will be the global dramas to break through in 2018? Below are 10 shows to keep an eye on that will likely make it to the U.S.
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Kidulthood creator Noel Clarke and Top Boy’s Ashley Walters (pictured, left) have partnered with The Football Factory creator Nick Love to produce buddy cop drama Bulletproof for UK pay-TV broadcaster Sky 1. The six-part Lethal Weapon-style series stars Clarke and Walters as Bishop and Pike, friends who are police officers but who grew up in very different worlds. The series is produced by Vertigo Films, the company best known for feature films such as The Sweeney. However, over the last couple of years it has diverted most of its resources from films into television.
Vertigo Films co-creator Allan Niblo tells Deadline: “The landscape has completely changed. When we first looked at TV six years ago, there weren’t too many opportunities, but now with the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, they’re starting to want the type of shows that we want to make.” The series is set to launch internationally at Mip TV in April, and distributor Sky Vision expects to close a U.S. sale in 2018.
Lilyhammer’s Sven Nordin stars as Detective William Wisting in a 10-part drama adaptation of Jørn Lier Horst’s book series. The drama, which is based on the first two books The Hunting Dogs and The Caveman, sees Wisting attempt to solve a series of senseless and vicious murders in a small coastal town. However, the detective must also deal with issues in his own family as well as the deadly killer. The Nordic noir thriller, which begins production in Norway in January, was commissioned by Scandinavian streaming service Viaplay and will also air on TV3 Norway and German broadcaster ARD Degeto. It is being adapted by Trygve Allister Diesen (The Third Eye) and Katrine Valen Zeiner (Eyewitness) and is produced by Norway’s Cinenord Drama and Denmark’s The Good Company, which hope that it can become as internationally recognized as The Killing and The Bridge.
Cinenord’s Silje Hopland Eik says its ambition is to create a “Norwegian drama juggernaut that will last for many seasons,” while The Good Company Film’s producer Anni Faurbye Fernandez says the “thrilling” series has also received “overwhelming interest from foreign broadcasters and distributors.”
Miss Sherlock (Japan)
Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective has been widely portrayed on screen by the likes of Johnny Lee Miller in CBS’ Elementary, by Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC One’s Sherlock, and by Robert Downey Jr in an eponymous feature film. The latest attempt is female-fronted onee starring Japanese actress Yuko Takeguchi as Sherlock and Shihori Kanjiya as Watson (or Dr Wato Tachibana), and puts a new spin on the classic crime series. The eight-part drama is produced for Hulu Japan and HBO Asia, with the latter launching the drama in April 2018 across nearly 20 markets in the region on its streaming platforms. HBO Asia CEO Jonathan Spink says HBO has based much of its success on original shows, “so it is great that we are doing something in our little way in Asia.”
Elsewhere, HBO Asia’s slate includes horror anthology Folklore, with Singapore auteur Eric Khoo as showrunner, and English-language Grisse, set in 18th century Dutch East Indies and produced by Singapore- and Indonesia-based producer Mike Wiluan, who was previously responsible for HBO Asia’s Serangoon Road.
Bite Club (Australia)
Dominic Monaghan, best known for starring in ABC’s Lost and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, is moving from Hollywood to Australia for shark crime drama Bite Club. The eight-part thriller follows two detectives, who, after surviving a shark attack, join forces to hunt a serial killer that is also hunting them. The drama, which will air on Nine Network in 2018, is produced by Sony Pictures Television-owned producer Playmaker Media, the firm behind spy thriller The Code, with the Hollywood studio also taking international distribution rights.
Creator Sarah Smith tells Deadline that Bite Club was inspired by real-life stories of those who have survived shark attacks “as well as the desire to create a fresh take on the homicide detective genre. It was also a way to put a uniquely Australian look and feel to the material; the idyllic and dramatic coastline, beaches and blue skies are juxtapositioned with the knowledge that something sinister is lurking beneath.”
Australian dramas have regularly been remade in the U.S. including NBC’s adaptation of The Slap with Uma Thurman and Zachary Quinto, FX’s Elijah Wood-fronted dog comedy Wilfred, and Greg Kinnear’s legal comedy Rake for Fox. However, Playmaker, which was set up by former Fox Television Studios Australia execs David Taylor and David Maher, will be hoping to sell the finished show, rather than just remake rights, to a U.S, network, a deal that might be helped by Monaghan’s involvement.
Flatey Enigma (Iceland)
Iceland is fast becoming one of the most exciting territories for international crime dramas with the likes of Baltasar Kormákur’s Trapped and Baldvin Zophoníasson’s Netflix drama Case. Next up on the chilly docket is Flatey Enigma, a four-part drama based on the book by Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson. The series, which is set in the early 1970s, follows Johanna, a professor of Nordic Studies, accused of murder. In order to prove her innocence she has to solve a riddle in a medieval manuscript and face the man she ran away from 10 years ago. Written by Margrét Örnólfsdóttir (Prisoners) and directed by Björn B. Björnsson (Cold Trail), the series is produced by Sagafilm, the firm behind Viaplay’s Stella Blómkvist series, and Reykjavik Films for Iceland’s RÚV and all the Scandinavian public broadcasters (DR, SVT, YLE and NRK). Sky Vision will distribute internationally and is looking for both finished sales as well as an English-language remake.
Sky Vision’s Scripted Acquisitions Manager Moreyba Bidessie says Flatey Enigma is a “compelling story about an estranged daughter who must exonerate herself, proving her innocence, and is forced to confront her deepest fears.” She adds: “We know international audiences love Nordic drama, and I’m sure this will be a success.”
One Night (Norway)
In addition to a slew of successful dark crime dramas, Scandinavia is beginning to produce a raft of innovative series with slightly different forms such as teen series Skam, which is being remade by Simon Fuller for Facebook. The latest show to play with form is One Night, known locally as En Natt, a 10-part, 30-minute romantic comedy drama from the creators of hit comedy Dag. The series, which stars MyAnna Buring, who has featured in Downton Abbey and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 2, follows two people in their 30s who meet on a blind date and is told in real time. It is filmed in both Norwegian, with Anders Baasmo Christiansen (The King’s Choice), and in English, with Gísli Örn Garðarsson (Prisoners). It was written and directed by Lilyhammer’s Øystein Karlsen and produced by Viafilm’s Anders Tangen for Norwegian public broadcaster NRK. French producer and distributor Federation Entertainment, set up by The Collection’s Pascal Breton, is handling international sales.
Separately, NRK is also developing series including Atlantic Crossings, a period drama inspired by the true story of the romance between Crown Princess Märtha of Norway and President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II, and July, telling the story of terrorist Anders Behring Breivik.
Fertile Crescent (France/Israel)
Maria Feldman, co-creator of Fox International Channels’ first foreign-language series False Flag, has created a globally friendly drama that centers on a French family shattered by the apparent death of their daughter in a Jerusalem suicide bombing. However, years after her death, her brother is convinced that he saw her on television showing footage of female Kurdish fighters and sets off to find her in the Middle East. The series, which was originally pitched at French festival Series Mania, is produced by French production company Haut et Court, the producers of Les Revenants (which was remade by A&E as The Returned), HBO’s The Young Pope, and Sky and Sundance co-production The Last Panthers. It is being produced in association with Eitan Mansuri’s Israeli firm Spiro Films and FremantleMedia International is searching for international commissioners.
Christian Vesper, EVP and Creative Director of Global Drama at the RTL-backed producer and distributor, says the show, which will be shot in French, Arabic and English, is a “very layered family drama set against the backdrop of the Middle East.” He adds that it has a similar tone to BBC and Sundance co-pro The Honourable Woman, which starred Maggie Gyllenhaal. He tells Deadline: “We’ll not only approach French networks but all kinds of broadcasters from around the world that have a global perspective.”
Justice (Middle East)
The Middle East is a regular location for a raft of political dramas produced in the U.S. and abroad, but the region has rarely produced its own scripted content. This is about to change as broadcasters on the continent start to ramp up their own originations. One of the most interesting projects to emerge is Justice, known locally as Qalb Al Adala, a legal drama created by LA Law and NYPD Blue’s William Finkelstein and He Named Me Malala producer Walter Parkes. The series follows real cases from the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department and follows Farah, an ambitious and passionate young lawyer who has just returned from the U.S. after having attained a law degree but is determined to succeed on her own despite her father being one of the UAE’s top lawyers. The series, which stars Fatima Al Taei, Mansoor Al Feeli, Mohamed Alamiri, and Malak Al Khalidi, is produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi and Beelink Productions in association with U.S. firm IM Global Television for Middle Eastern pay-TV broadcaster OSN. IM Global Television’s President of International Distribution and Co-Productions Eli Shibley says the deal was the first of its kind in the region.
Baghdad Central (UK)
Euston Films, the Kate Harwood-run production company behind Hulu and BBC One’s forthcoming drama Hard Sun, is preparing a crime drama set in the ruins of the Iraqi capital. The series, which is based on Elliott Colla’s 2014 novel, tells the story of Muhsin al-Khafaji, an Iraqi ex-policeman who has lost his home, his wife and his career and is battling to keep himself and his ailing daughter safe. The political drama — written by Stephen Butchard, the man responsible for The Last Kingdom and BBC and HBO co-pro House of Saddam — is set to air on Channel 4 in the UK in 2018 and will be distributed globally by FremantleMedia International. Butchard says the show is the the story of the “strength of ordinary men and women who, in the face of incredible trauma and hardship, keep taking on life one step at a time.”
The thriller is the latest crime drama set up by Harwood, who is also working on a remake of Tana French’s award-winning Dublin Murder Squad books. The eight-part series, which follows two Irish detectives investigating the murder of a 12-year-old girl, will air on BBC One.
Polish actress Izabella Scorupco, who starred in James Bond film Goldeneye, and August Wittgenstein, who stars in Netflix’s The Crown, has teamed for Swedish fantasy thriller Hidden. The series, known locally as Eldmärkt, will start filming in January and is produced by The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo producer Yellow Bird for Scandinavian streaming service Viaplay and TV3 in Sweden. The drama is based on Filip Alexanderson’s novel Förstfödd, where nothing is quite what it seems with dark secrets, unsuspected identities and supernatural forces converging against the backdrop of modern-day Stockholm. It has been adapted for the screen by Occupied’s Björn Paqualin and Black Lake’s Jonathan Sjöberg and is produced in association with Germany’s Tele München Gruppe, Benelux’s Lumière and Banijay Rights, which holds the international rights.
Jakob Mejlhede, Head of Programming and Content Development at Viaplay’s parent company Modern Times Group, says Hidden is a “global urban fantasy phenomenon.” “It blends the paranormal with hard-hitting realism and psychological drama – it’s like seeing Stockholm in a weird fairground mirror,” he adds.
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