Historically, French drama has not travelled well. But recent successes such as Braquo and Jo suggest this might be about to change. Zodiak Rights head of drama Alex Piel thinks so – and is backing big-budget supernatural series Rebound to be the next French drama to make its mark on the international stage.
Zodiak Rights has just shopped it to Channel 4 in the UK, marking the first time in over two decades the free-to-air broadcaster will air a non-English language series. The distributor has also sold it to broadcasters including SVT in Sweden, Hot in Israel, Now TV in Hong Kong and Viasat in Hungary.
Rebound is an 8x60mins series following a group of men and women who return from the dead and attempt to reclaim their place in the world of the living. Their arrival coincides with a series of gruesome murders that bear a strong resemblance to the work of a serial killer from the past.
“It’s not a zombie drama,” says Piel. “It’s more about the confusion that occurs because no-one is expecting them. They don’t understand that time has moved on without them.”
Directed by Fabrice Gobert and Frédéric Mermoud, the first two episodes launched on French premium channel Canal+ on November 26 and attracted 1.4 million viewers. This equates to a 23% market share for Canal+ subscribers, beating the series two launch of Braquo. It’s also the second best launch for an original series ever on Canal+, beaten only by Borgia.
Piel says Canal+ is playing a leading part in the dynamism of the French scripted market by working with proven producers in a narrative style more usually associated with US drama. Rebound, for example, is an €11 million production from Haut et Court, the company behind two acclaimed movies The Class and Coco Before Chanel.
As for international interest, Piel says buyers in a number of major markets have expressed an interest. Also worthy of note is that UK-based showrunner Paul Abbott has announced plans to make an English-language remake, They Came Back. Abbott has a first-look arrangement with FremantleMedia Enterprises, which closed the deal with Haut et Court. No broadcaster is yet attached.
The show: Rebound
The Producer: Haut et Court
The Distributor: Zodiak Rights
The broadcaster: Canal+
Concept: A group of men and women return from the dead and attempt to reclaim their place in the world of the living