The global TV drama market is booming with international networks and worldwide SVOD platforms moving into original, local scripted production in an unparalleled way. Foreign dramas and comedies are increasingly starting to play in the U.S., on a variety of cable networks and digital platforms, in addition to broadcasters and studios scouring the globe to find the most interesting ideas to translate to North American audiences.
This year’s development season has already seen ABC working up a legal drama with Daniel Dae Kim based on Korean format My Lawyer, Mr Jo., and romantic drama Until The Wedding, based on the eponymous Israeli series, while Fox handed a script commitment to British comedy Sunny D.
The SVOD services are also getting involved; Amazon is piloting a Las Vegas-set remake of DJ mockumentary People Just Do Nothing and Apple is finalizing a deal for a Richard Gere-fronted drama based on Israeli drama Nevelot.
But what’s next? Deadline looks at some of the international series and projects that might either be eyed for remake potential by U.S. networks and SVODs in the future as well as shows that could be picked up as finished tape by foreign friendly cable networks.
Beforeigners is a high-concept sci-fi drama that sounds like it could have come from the mind of J.J. Abrams. The show follows a new phenomenon that starts happening all over the world: people from the past appear. These people from the Stone Age, the Viking era and late 19th Century, known as beforeigners, have no memory of how they got there. In the drama, Alfhildr, a woman from the Viking Age, played by Blade Runner 2049 star Krista Kosonen, teams up with burned-out police officer Lars Haaland, played by Aquitted’s Nicolai Cleve Broch, to investigate a murder before beginning to unravel a larger conspiracy behind the origin of the mysterious mass arrivals. Created by Anne Bjørnstad and Eilif Skodvin, the creative team behind Netflix’s Lilyhammer, the six-part series is produced by Endemol Shine’s Rubicon TV and directed by Jens Lien (Viva Hate). It is one of HBO’s first original commissions in the Nordic region and will air on HBO’s digital platforms in the U.S. However, you can imagine, if successful, an English-language remake will not be far away.
Diary of an Uber Driver (Australia)
ABC Australia is aggressively stepping up the quality of its scripted projects with shows such as Ioan Gruffudd’s Harrow, Sharon Horgan-produced Frayed, and Black Bxtch with Brothers & Sisters’ Rachel Griffiths. Therefore, there are high hopes for its next project – Diary of an Uber Driver. Based on a popular blog, the show follows Uber driver Ben, played by Sam Cotton, as he meets interesting and odd people on his daily drives, while also attempting to conquer his own demons. The six-part series, set in Sydney, has been written by Thomas Ward, one of the writers of breakout Australian comedy Please Like Me, is directed by Matthew Moore (Offspring), and is shot by Fast and the Furious franchise DOP Stephen F. Windon. The show is produced by RevLover Films and sold around the world by All3Media International, and both companies will be hopeful of local success, and potentially a U.S. remake. All3Media International EVP content Maartje Horchner told Deadline that the show brings together “fantastic” writing, “excellent” direction and great production skills. “Diary of an Uber Driver’s irreverent but heartfelt and relatable comedy will appeal to buyers around the world,” she said. “The programme embodies All3Media International’s ambitions to bring more authored and emotional comedy to the international market, alongside titles like Fleabag, Gameface and The Bisexual, together with our continued desire to work with the best creative talent in Australia.”
The majority of high-end British scripted series are produced in association with U.S. networks or international streaming services these days. It’s rare, then, to find a show that might have a chance of being remade for a U.S. audience. Brassic, however, with its working class roots, may be exactly the type of show U.S. networks are looking for as they try and reach out to red state voters. The comedy tells the story of Vinnie, played by This Is England star Joe Gilgun, a man from the north of England with bipolar disorder and his best mate Dylan, played by Ripper Street’s Damien Molony, whose girlfriend Erin, played by Our Girl’s Michelle Keegan, decides to leave town. Dylan is faced with the impossible decision between a fresh start with the love of his life or staying behind with his inseparable gang of mates that he can’t live without. Tom Hanson, Aaron Heffernan, Ryan Sampson, Parth Thakerar also star in the Shameless-esque comedy. It was co-created by Gilgun and Danny Brocklehurst, the writer behind Netflix’s Michael C Hall-fronted thriller Safe and produced for Sky One by Calamity Films, the company behind Renée Zellweger’s forthcoming Judy Garland biopic. Calamity Films’ David Livingstone said that the show has “humour” and “humanity”. “It was like reading a great book with amazing characters for the first time. Something you knew you wanted to be part of,” he added. ITV Studios Global Entertainment sells globally.
Dream, or Dröm in Swedish, is a Scandinavian-esque Stranger Things. A group of kids dream about their futures every time they fall asleep and through their dreams they get to see what their lives will be like in twenty years. The group, which first discovered their newfound powers after waking up on an asteroid-hit island, are able to see the surprises and positive moments of their lives but also their disappointments and when the dreams highlight bad things are about to happen, they must act. It stars a number of child actors including Emanuel Kielin, Adam Gutniak and Ylvali Rurling. The drama was created by Aron Levander and Filip Hammarström, two of the team behind dark Swedish crime drama Jordskott, which airs on Shudder in the U.S. and is written by the pair alongside rising writer Dunja Vujovic. Crille Forsberg, who worked on David Bowie’s Lazarus video, is the cinematographer. It is produced by Palladium Fiction, the Swedish producer owned by Sony Pictures Television, which is distributing, and public broadcaster SVT, which was looking for a sci-fi thriller for a younger-skewing audience. SVT exec Johanna Gårdare said that the show would “creep under the skin, give lumps in the stomach and at the same time warm the heart”.
The Swarm (Germany)
Game of Thrones is not a bad show to have on your CV; Frank Doelger, exec producer of the HBO smash, will be hoping for even a small portion of the epic fantasy drama’s international success for The Swarm. The English-language drama, which is based on Frank Schaetzing’s book, has been commissioned by German public broadcaster ZDF. It is the first project to emerge from Doelger’s Intaglio Films, a joint venture between Beta Film and ZDF Enterprises, in association with ndF International Production. The eight-part series is a global environmental thriller set in a present day where anomalies and unnatural behavior in marine animals are causing upheaval all over the world. Millions of strange worms suddenly appear on the bottom of the North Sea, drilling their way through frozen methane, threatening to destabilize the entire continental shelf. Swarms of mussels stop large vessels from maneuvering. Toxic jellyfish, lobsters and whales start attacking human beings along the coasts of the world. It follows a global group of scientists and military who come together to tackle one of the biggest challenges mankind has ever faced. Production begins in 2019. Doelger said it was a “searing exploration of the impending doom brought about by man’s callous disregard of the oceans, a doomsday scenario as dire as anything imagined by George R.R. Martin”.
Made In Italy (Italy)
Italy has had a drama renaissance in the last few years with the likes of Gomorrah, The Young Pope and My Brilliant Friend. Next up is Made In Italy, an eight-part series that looks at the birth of Italian fashion in the 1970s. The show, which is produced by Taodue Film and The Family for Italian broadcaster Mediaset Canale 5, stars model Greta Ferro (right) as Irene, a young daughter of Southern Italian immigrants, who joins a fashion magazine and eventually takes on a pivotal role. As Milan’s fashion industry evolves, her life will also undergo radical changes, meeting many young designers taking their first steps, on the verge of exploding onto the international market as the spotlight of the fashion world is about to shift from French haute couture to Italian pret-a-porter. The shows will explore issues of divorce, women’s lib, social and political upheaval, student protests, music, terrorism, free love, violence and the birth of free radio. Some of fashion’s biggest names such as Albini, Curiel, Krizia, Missoni and Valentino have opened up their archives to lend clothing and accessories to the production, which also includes actors such as Valentina Carnelutti, Sergio Albelli, Giuseppe Cederna, Marco Bocci, Fiammetta Cicogna, Maurizio Lastrico and Saul Nanni. Directed by Luca Lucini and Ago Panini, it filmed in Milan, New York and Morocco and is being sold internationally by The Collection distributor Federation Entertainment.
Bad Mothers (Australia)
Desperate Housewives was a huge hit when it launched on ABC in 2004. Now, four women from the other side of the world with beautiful homes, perfect families and pristine picket fences are hiding in their own world of dirty little secrets. Magic City actress Jessica Marais stars alongside Love Child’s Mandy McElhinney, Our Girl’s Shalom Brune-Franklin and Wolf Creek’s Jessica Tovey in the eight-part series, which was filmed in Melbourne and was written by Rachel Lang (Filthy Rich), Sarah Walker (Wonderland), Gavin Strawhan (Hyde & Seek) and Phil Lloyd (Sando). The show was co-funded by Screen Australia, whose head of production Sally Caplan said it was a “genuine” and “relatable” script about the “challenges of modern parenthood”. The show is produced by Jungle Entertainment, the Australian production company that recently made a major mark in the U.S. by producing series including FX’s Mr Inbetween and CBS All Access’ Will Ferrell-exec produced No Activity. The latter is a remake of its own Australian drama, produced for Stan, and the company will likely be looking for similar transatlantic success for Bad Mothers.
Måns Mårlind, co-creator of Bron, otherwise known as global cop franchise The Bridge, has teamed up with I Know What You Did Last Summer director Jim Gillespie for a tantalizing mix of Nordic Noir and American crime. English-language drama Shadowplay is a character-driven period thriller set in Berlin and centres on the story of Max McLaughlin, an American cop who arrives in the city in the summer of 1946 to help create a police force in the chaotic aftermath of the war. Max’s goal is to take down “Englemacher” Gladow, the Al Capone of post-war Berlin. At the same time, Max undertakes a secret crusade to find his missing brother, who is killing ex-Nazis in hiding. However, Max is completely unaware that he is being used as a pawn in what is the very beginning of the Cold War. Mårlind, who directed Kate Beckinsale’s Underworld Awakening, will write all eight episodes and will direct four episodes alongside his directing partner Björn Stein. The series is produced by Tully producer Bron Studios, its first foray into big-budget global TV drama, and Studiocanal’s Tandem Productions, for a slew of European broadcasters including France’s Canal+, Scandinavian digital platform Viaplay, Canal+ in Poland and Dutch public broadcaster NPO. It can only be a matter of time before a U.S. network or SVOD service gets involved.
If I Can Love You So (China)
China is starting to move aggressively into original TV production and it’s only a matter of time before the country has a breakout international hit. Hunan TV will be hoping that it’s If I Can Love You So. The 46-part unconventional drama tells the story of a husband and his mistress who kill themselves and their partners cross paths at their funeral and start a relationship. Tong Dawei plays world-renowned pianist and Cecilia Liu Shishi plays TV anchor Bai Kaoer. The show was filmed in Beijin, Hunan, Seattle and Vancouver and is written by Qian Xun Qian Xun, who wrote the novel that the story is based on. Directed by Wang Lei, it is produced by Dongyang Kingrain Media, Beijing Tongyuemingxin Media, Zijin Alliance Television and is expected to air as part of Hunan’s 2019 drama slate.
Love Me (Sweden)
Nordic Entertainment Group’s SVOD service Viaplay has been picking up steam with a slew of originals including Keanu Reeves-starring Swedish Dicks and Veni Vidi Vici, which aired on Hulu. Next up for the Modern Times Group-backed service is Love Me, starring Borg vs McEnroe’s Sverrir Gudnason. The show, which was written and directed by Josephine Bornebusch, who was one of the writers and stars of Greg Poehler’s NBC comedy Welcome to Sweden, tells the story of how love can change life. Spanning three generations of people from Stockholm in Sweden, the show follows them through a story of friendship, grief and romance. Known locally as Älska Mig, the show also stars Johan Ulveson and Ia Langhammer (The Truth Will Out), Gustav Lindh (Jordskott) and Görel Crona (Spring Tide) and is produced by Warner Bros. International Television Production Sverige. Nordic Entertainment Group’s Head of Content Jakob Mejlhede Andersen said, “This comedy drama has the pacing, production values and psychological depth associated with the very best Nordic drama productions, but this time with more laughs.”