Mipcom: Studiocanal Clinches Pre-Sales on Flagship Series ‘Midnight Sun’

John Hopewell

CANNES, France — Studiocanal, Europe’s biggest film investor and one of the region’s fastest-growing TV drama producers, has sold “Midnight Sun,” its flagship Mipcom series, to Germany’s ZDF, Denmark’s DR and Australia’s SBS.

Produced by Sweden’s SVT and France’s Canal Plus, “Midnight Sun,” one of the most anticipated series from continental Europe, has also clinched deals with TV operators in Norway (NRK), Finland (MTV3), Iceland (RUV), Israel (HOT), and Benelux, where rights are split between Belgium’s VRT and film-TV production-distribution company Lumière. SVT will be the first broadcaster to air “Midnight Sun,” starting Oct. 23. France’s Canal Plus will launch the drama-thriller under its Creation Originale label, later this year.

Studiocanal is in advanced negotiations to close additional sales in the coming months, said Katrina Neylon, Studiocanal EVP, sales and marketing.

The high-end murder mystery series has attracted major attention since its first two episodes bowed at April’s Series Mania in Paris and shared the festival’s Audience Award. It turns on a French police officer, Kahina Zadi (Leila Bekhti, “A Prophet”), who is dispatched from Paris to Kiruna, a small mining community in Arctic Sweden, to lead the investigation of the gruesome murder of a French citizen. She is aided by a local Swedish DA, Anders Harnesk (Gustaf Hammarsten, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”). As other bloody murders of townsfolk quickly mount up, the duo link them to rituals of the local Sami people.

“‘Midnight Sun’ is Nordic Noir at its finest. This truly international series offers sweeping scenery, compelling storytelling and stunning performances,” said Marshall Heald, SBS director of television and online content.

Produced by France’s Atlantique Productions and Sweden’s Nice Drama, “Midnight Sun” is written by “The Bridge” co-scribes Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein from an idea by Henrik Jansson-Schweizer and Patrick Nebout.

“Midnight Sun’s” early sales are to many of the companies which made Nordic Noir an international brand. “The Bridge,” for example, was produced by SVT and DR, co-produced by Germany’s ZDF – which also co-produced Swedish serial killer thriller “Modus” and the upcoming “Springtide.” “The Bridge” was also acquired by Norway’s NRK.

Of the first buyers confirmed on “Midnight Sun,” Israel’s HOT is a cable TV operator, Finland’s MTV3 a Viacom-owned commercial TV network. Apart from that, however, the first buyers on the series are state-backed free-to-air broadcasters.

The dialog in “Midnight Sun” is in English, French, Swedish and Sami. The challenge for foreign-language series is no longer to sell abroad but rather to chalk up significant ratings on mainstream channels outside their country of origin. This is key for Vivendi, the owner of Studiocanal parent company Canal Plus Group, as it seeks to build a contents powerhouse across Europe.

On ZDF, Germany’s second-largest state-backed network, “Midnight Sun” will be able to measure its ratings appeal in Germany against some high-profile past Nordic Noirs. “’Midnight Sun’ will be an absolute highlight in our 2017 schedule,” said Susanne Mueller, ZDF executive director of feature films and international co-productions.

She called it “a perfect fit” for ZDF’s Sunday late-night crime slot, “where we air the finest European crime drama.”

Playing off its ownership of, stakes in or backing of eight production companies in Europe, Studiocanal’s Mipcom slate also takes in three series from its network of Studiocanal companies: eight-part crime thriller “Below the Surface,” from Denmark’s SAM Productions, run by the creators of “Borgen” and “The Killing” and the producer of “A Royal Affair”; procedural “Paranoid,” from Nicola Shindler’s Manchester-based RED Production Company, made for ITV and Netflix; and “Crazyhead,” from “Misfits” creator Howard Overman, described as a “Buffy”-style demon slayer horror comedy, from London’s Urban Myth Films.

In the run-up to Mipcom, Studiocanal announced that Idris Elba’s Green Door pictures will partner with Tandem Productions and Save Ferris Ent. on new Africa-set drama “Brazza.”

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