News round-up: ‘Black Widows’ heads to India; SundanceNow gets ‘Upright’; Hulu scraps ‘Harlots’; SeriesFest update; W4free latest

Black Widows

India’s Zee5 adapts Black Widows

Indian streamer Zee5 has struck a deal with NENT Studios UK (fka DRG) to create a local version of scripted format Black Widows.

The agreement has been forged with producer Big Synergy Media and will see two seasons of the show remade for local audiences, with the first set to air later this year.

Based on the Finnish drama of the same name, the Black Widows deal includes the rights for two original 12-hour series, made up of 24 episodes. The Indian version will be the eighth international remake following versions in Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, the Middle East, Mexico, Scandinavia and the Czech Republic.

Black Widows was created by Roope Lehtinen and Mikko Polla (now of Nordic prodco Fire Monkey, then Moskito) for Finnish broadcaster Nelonen. It tells a darkly comic story of three best friends who try to kill their husbands, with varying degrees of success.

Tarun Katial, CEO at Zee5 India, said: “With over 100 original web series and films across genres and languages, our aim is to continue to offer consumers content that is real, relevant and relatable. Black Widows is an engaging story featuring strong female protagonists, plenty of suspense, and a large dose of dark humour. We could immediately see its appeal for Indian audiences and found credible partners in NENT Studios UK and Big Synergy Media.”


SundanceNow makes Upright move

AMC Networks’ streaming service Sundance Now has acquired US rights to Tim Minchin-starring Australian eight-part drama Upright.

The show is produced by Lingo Pictures and follows a shabby musician (Minchin) who has to drive across Australia with nothing but a piano, and finds his baggage soon increases when a runaway girl comes into his life. It was produced for Foxtel in Oz and Sky in the UK, with Entertainment One selling globally.

Minchin said: “The reactions to Upright in the UK and Australia have been like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and I can’t wait for Americans to see it. It’s quintessentially Aussie and, at the same time, utterly universal. And I’m pretty sure it’ll make you really laugh and properly cry, which – for me – is always the goal.”

AVOD W4free expands

AVOD streamer W4free has completed feature film licensing deals with Kaleidoscope, Platform Entertainment, The Film Consortium and Icon Film Distribution, which between them add over 100 titles to the company’s new film offering.

The films will be made available to W4Free users in the UK over the coming months, with shows including Henry V with Kenneth Branagh and La Vie En Rose available. Oscar winner Once, The Passion Of The Christ and Whale Rider will also feature.

“Our goal for W4Free has been to establish the service as a leading provider of free entertainment in and out of the home. With that in mind, and with viewing hours continuing to build aggressively since our launch, these films help us meet some important goals,” said Chris Sharp, chairman of W4free.


Hulu scraps Harlots, Reprisal

Hulu has cancelled period drama Hulu and femme fatale series Reprisal.

Harlots was produced by ITV Studios-backed prodco Monumental Pictures and was into its third season on the Disney-owned streamer. The show was set in 18th Century London and followed a matriarch who ran a brothel.

It had previously been commissioned by UK network ITV Encore, but was dropped when the channel was shuttered in 2018.

Reprisal, meanwhile, was from Warren Littlefield (The Handmaid’s Tale) with A+E Studios producing. The show followed a woman’s revenge after she was left for dead.

SeriesFest to feature Quibi’s Jeffrey Katzenberg

Denver-based SeriesFest has unveiled the programming line-up for its sixth instalment, which will take place online.

The reimagined virtual festival takes place 18-24 June and includes six days of competition screenings, panel discussions, workshops and premieres.

The event will kick off on 18 June with an opening night screening of the new Starz drama P-Valley, followed by a live streaming Q&A panel with the series’ stars and creator/showrunner, Katori Hall.

Quibi founder and chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg will also appear with an interview from Liberty Global’s CEO and vice chairman Mike Fries, while Kathleen Finch, chief lifestyle brands officer of Discovery, is also set to feature.

An ‘Altered Entertainment Landscape’ panel will feature Blumhouse Television’s Jeremy Gold, Propagate Content’s Howard Owens and Critical Content’s Jennifer Daly among others, while other discussions will feature Sally Habbershaw, EVP of Americas for All3Media International.


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