After a heated bidding war, ITV has closed a deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution to acquire the exclusive first run UK broadcast rights to Lethal Weapon, TVWise has learned.
Notably, this is the first U.S. acquisition for the main ITV channel since The Americans; which, while starting off reasonably strong, failed to connect with a broad audience on the channel and was later shifted to pay channel ITV Encore.
Based on the film series of the same name, Lethal Weapon follows classic cop duo Riggs and Murtaugh, who are working a crime-ridden beat in modern-day Los Angeles. The drama series is produced by Warner Bros. Television and stars Damon Wayans, Sr, Clayne Crawford, Jordana Brewster, Kevin Rahm and Keesha Sharp. The executive producers are Matt Miller, McG, Dan Lin amd Jennifer Gwartz.
This is one of the first deals to have been struck by a major UK broadcaster following the recent LA Screenings, where Lethal Weapon quickly emerged as a hot title. It comes after Amazon previously inked a deal with CBS Studios International to acquire the UK rights to both of CBS summer series BrainDead and American Gothic. A number of other deals are also in the works for such series as Designated Survivor and the new Star Trek.
ITV has been keeping an eye out for a U.S. scripted series with broad appeal that could be scheduled on the main channel. ITV’s Head of Acquired Series Sasha Breslau, who brokered this deal with WBITD, previously told TVWise that finding another U.S. show for the main channel was a key ambition. “It’s a really tough one to buy for because a drama for the main channel needs to be broad and feel warm. It can’t be too American centric, while still being distinctive enough to stand out, and I think that’s really tough”, she said. “I’m hopeful, it’s just I’m well aware of how tough it is and the pressures on anything that we acquire for the main channel”.
“We’re absolutely delighted to be bringing Lethal Weapon to our main channel. It’s rare that we find an acquisition with that sweet spot potential – the best production values and hugely entertaining drama, that we think can appeal to the biggest and broadest audiences and take up a place in ITV primetime”, added ITV’s Director of Television Kevin Lygo. “We saw Lethal Weapon and were immediately excited by what it could add to the ITV schedule, and we’re really looking forward to bringing the series to UK viewers.”