MIPCOM 2014 – Drama Hot Picks: 'Gracepoint', 'Aquarius', 'Fortitude' & More – TVWise

Today in Cannes, MIPCOM 2014 officially kicks off. With independent distributors, major studios and buyers from across the world in attendance, a lot of business is set to be concluded by the time the sun sets on the Croisette on Thursday.
If early chatter is anything to go by, IDW and eOne will announce their plans going forward, a couple of international co-production agreements will be hammered out and a large volume of format and finished tape deals will be concluded.
Going into the market, what are some of the hotter titles on offer? Read on as TVWise presents our 5 drama hot picks for MIPCOM 2014.
Distributor: Shine International
Broadchurch was an instant hit for ITV when the series premiered last year and international distributor Shine quickly racked up a slew of international sales. Shortly thereafter, Fox linked up with Shine to adapt the series for the US market.
Gracepoint is that US adaptation, which debuted on Fox earlier this month. Much like the UK original, the basic concept revolves around the murder of a young boy in a sleepy seaside town, with the ensuing police investigation diving the town. David Tennant also stars in the US version, playing an Americanised version of his Broadchurch character.
It is produced by Shine America in association with Kudos & Imaginary Friends and features an all-star cast which also includes Anna Gunn, Nick Nolte, Jacki Weaver, Josh Hamilton, Michael Peña and Sarah-Jane Potts
A key selling point has been the involvement of original series creator Chris Chibnall and series lead David Tennant. But perhaps the bigger selling point has been the promise of a different ending to the UK original.
Shine International has lined up a number of deals for Gracepoint and over the weekend they announced that they had sold the series to Telefónica in Spain. That follows on from selling the show to key markets Australia and Canada last week. It is understood that a UK deal has also been agreed (though both Shine and ITV have yet to confirm that).
Distributor: ITV Studios Global Entertainment
“David Duchovny with a badge and a gun. Need I say more?”, that’s what one acquisitions exec told TVWise back in May, and it’s no doubt a sentiment that ITVSGE is hoping will be shared amongst international buyers.
Toplined by David Duchovny, Aquarius is a new 1960s crime drama which follows a complicated LAPD Sergeant (Duchovny) who starts tracking a small-time criminal and budding cult leader, who turns out to be Charles Manson. He partners with undercover cop Brian Shafe and before long enters Manson’s world.
The drama, which bypassed the pilot process and got a 13 episode straight to series order from NBC, hails from ITV Studios’ joint venture Tomorrow ITV Studios, and, in addition to the former X-Files alum, stars Grey Damon (Friday Night Lights), Gethin Anthony (Game Of Thrones) and Emma Dumont (Bunheads).
The show is a rare high-end US scripted drama for ITVSGE and, given both the auspices of the creators and the pedigree of the cast, is already drawing strong interest from international buyers. After premiering the debut episode next week, ITV will be looking to tie down agreements in key markets – including Canada, Australia and the UK.
The Expanse
Distributor: Legendary Global Television Distribution
Legendary TV’s newly launched distribution division Legendary Global Television Distribution is taking a number of shows to MIPCOM, one of them being space opera The Expanse.
From Alcon Television, The Expanse has been described as being reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica and follows a hardened detective and a rogue ship captain who come together to investigate the disappearance of a young woman and soon find themselves in a race across the solar system to expose the greatest conspiracy in human history.
The series is set to bow on Syfy in the US next Summer with a cast that includes Thomas Jane (Hung), Shohreh Aghdashloo (24) and Steven Strait (Magic City). It is based on the book series of the same name and counts Farscape’s Naren Shankar amongst its executive producers.
Both Alcon and Legendary – who acquired distribution rights to The Expanse in September – have benefited from the US Syfy network’s recommitment to scripted drama under Bill McGoldrick and Dave Howe. The increased volume has resulted in series orders going to independent companies, such as Alcon, whereas previously the lion share of original series have been produced by Syfy’s sister studio Universal Cable Productions.
The return to the space opera genre, which brought Syfy so many eyeballs with the aforementioned Battlestar Galactica, has Legendary hopeful of strong sales, especially given the “built in” fan base that already exists from the novel series.
The Pinkertons
Distributor: Zodiak Rights
A good two decades ago, first run syndication was at its height and spawned such series as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Babylon 5, Xena: Warrior Princess, Hercules, Earth: Final Conflict and, going into the 2000s, Andromeda.
Since then, first run syndicated dramas – at least ones produced specifically for that distribution method – have become a rare breed. However, Rosetta Media and Buffalo Gal Pictures are giving the model another try with hour-long drama series The Pinkertons.
The show, which will produce a 22 episode first season, has been described as being in a similar vein to the CBC/UKTV co-production Murdoch Mysteries and follows The Pinkerton Detective Agency’s founder Allan Pinkerton, his son, William, and America’s first female detective, Kate Warne, as they investigate a myriad of cases in the 1860s.
The Pinkertons stars Angus Macfadyen (Turn), Martha MacIsaac (1600 Penn) and Jacob Blair (Battlestar Galactica) and will also show how the Pinkerton Agency revolutionised detective work through the use of undercover work and the mug shot.
Zodiak Rights – who have worked on such shows as Being Human and The Inbetweeners – is distributing the drama, with hopes that they will be able to spark interest from buyers in several key markets by the end of the week.
Distributor: Sky Vision
Arguably Sky’s most ambitious drama to date, Fortitude has a strong cast led by Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games), Michael Gambon (Harry Potter), Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), Sofie Gråbøl (The Killing) and Richard Dormer (Game of Thrones).
The 12 episode drama, which hails from Tiger Aspect’s Fifty Fathoms and Simon Donald, tells the story of a mysterious death in a close-knit community in the Arctic Circle. The town of Fortitude was thought to be one of the safest in the world, but the murder threatens the future of the town itself. The local Sheriff Dan Anderssen pairs up with DCI Morton to investigate the violent crime, but neither trusts the other, complicating the investigation.
Given its being hailed as Sky’s most ambitious drama to date – more so than either Sinbad or Strike Back – it comes as no surprise that it represents a huge investment for the satcater and is reported to have a budget of close to £30million. That said, international distributor Sky Vision are well on their way to recouping a good chunk of that investment.
BSkyB’s international distribution division has already lined up a lucrative co-production agreement with US network Pivot, who signed on after previous co-produce Starz backed out. They have also pre-sold the series to broadcasters in France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Canada, Iceland, Israel and Greece.
Sky Vision will be launching Fortitude to international buyers at MIPCOM, where they are aiming to close a new round of deals for the epic.