EXCLUSIVE: Sony-owned Eleventh Hour Films is doubling down on development to broaden its slate following its investment by the Hollywood studio. The producer has scored developments with the BBC and ITV on a slew of book adaptations after Sony Pictures Television acquired a minority stake in the Foyle’s War producer in September 2018.
The company is currently focused on a number of book adaptations including Alex Rider, which has been fully funded by the studio, classic British detective series Rebus and Whatever You Love from Apple Tree Yard author Louise Doughty.
Deadline can reveal that Rebus, which was written by Ian Rankin and follows Inspector John Rebus, a hardboiled Edinburgh cop with a tendency to bend rules, is in development with the BBC. The series is being written by Gregory Burke, writer of José Padilha hijacking thriller Entebbe. Rebus previously aired on ITV between 2000 and 2007 and was produced by STV Productions.
Elsewhere, ITV is attached to Whatever You Love. The Walking Dead star David Morrissey is attached to star in and exec produce the revenge thriller, which follows a mother looking to avenge the death of her nine-year-old daughter, who is killed in a hit-and-run accident. Australian writer Blake Ayshford (Barracuda) is writing the adaptation, which comes after the BBC had huge ratings success with Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard in 2017.
Eleventh Hour Films founder Jill Green told Deadline that the Sony investment has allowed it to grow over the last twelve months. “We went with Sony because they wanted to grow us; we were interested in a cash injection into the company to allow us to grow it and do more development, which we need to do at a faster rate.
She also said that the firm was working with Anthony Horowitz, Green’s husband and author of Alex Rider, on crime novel Magpie Murders, a whodunit story about a writer who is murdered while he’s writing his latest whodunit.
“Since our allegiance with Sony, we’ve been able to look at properties that we might not have thought were suitable for Eleventh Hour before. We want to widen out the perception of what we’re doing,” Green added.
Eleventh Hour Films had been working with Sony on a number of projects including Alex Rider, UFO drama Rendlesham starring and exec produced by Laurence Fishburne and a Horowitz-penned adaptation of Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny before it received the investment.
Eleventh Hour Films exec producer and head of talent Eve Gutierrez added that the studio’s roots in London – in Golden Square opposite Deadline’s UK HQ – helped convince them they were the right partner. Sony is obviously a big international label but actually they really understand the UK market. They have a proper base here rather than just in America and it’s quite different to some of the other things that we’re being offered. We’re in good company with the likes of Left Bank and they have Wayne Garvie on the ground here.”
Elsewhere, the company is looking to move into the half-hour space, buoyed by the success of BBC Three and Amazon co-pro Fleabag. “We’ve got a couple of half-hour dramas in development, that’s an opportunity that has opened up. We want to push boundaries. Look at Fleabag, people consider that a drama as much as a comedy; I think there’ll be more in that field,” said Gutierrez.
In addition to eyeing a number of projects with the SVOD services, the company, which is best known for producing Foyle’s War for nine seasons on TV, it is in talks with European broadcasters, particularly in Germany, to get shows away.
“There’s a lot of things rocking right now,” added Green.