MIPTV: Sony Talks Bad Wolf Acquisition, Sets ‘The Winter King’ as First Series
Sony Pictures Televsion and fast-rising British drama producers Bad Wolf (His Dark Materials) on Monday shared a stage for the first time since Sony acquired Bad Wolf in December, paying a reported $80 million for a majority stake in the Wales-based production company.
Bad Wolf co-CEO Jane Tranter and Wayne Garvie, president of international productions at Sony Pictures Television, announced their first major drama series since the deal: a revisionist take on the Arthurian legend called The Winter King. Based on Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles, the first 10-episode season is set to shoot in Wales and the West Country this year. Bad Wolf is producing in association with One Big Picture, with Sony Pictures Television handling international sales.
Kate Brooke (A Discovery Of Witches) and Ed Whitmore (Manhunt) are Cornwell’s books for the series, with Otto Bathurst (Peaky Blinders) as lead director.
Other Bad Wolf projects in development include the Netflix series Coming Undone, an adaptation of the memoir from former Empire magazine editor-in-chief Terri White, and in a major coup for the company, the new seasons of Doctor Who with Russell T. Davies rejoining the long-running Brit sci-fi series as showrunner in 2022. Tranter wouldn’t be drawn into commenting on spoilers for the new Doctor Who, except to say that it would shoot in Wales this year.
Sony’s Bad Wolf deal added the Brit shingle to the studio’s other U.K. investments, which now include The Crown producer Left Bank and Sex Education’s Eleven. In his keynote, Garvie called the production trio “complementary” and said they gave Sony a huge range and scale in the British market.
“If you pitched me a book to make into a TV show, I would know immediately which of these indies to give it to,” he explained.
With its footprint in the U.K. firmly established, Garvie said Sony Pictures Television would be shifting focus to Europe, in part in reaction to increased commissioning from streamers from France, Germany and Spain.
“There are lots of interesting deals to be done, and lots of interesting content to be developed with European free-to-air broadcasters,” he noted.
Echoing a point made earlier in the day by Candle Media boss Kevin Mayer, Garvie said that, given the stiff competition between streamers and broadcasters for high-end drama, there was an advantage to remaining independent and not signing on to exclusive streamer deals.
“Those [streamer] deals feel restrictive and don’t allow talent to work with the best producers or directors,” said Garvie. “They pay well but don’t necessarily give the creative freedom.”