NATPE: Companies in Japan and Finland have picked up period drama series from Russian studio Star Media.
Finnish public broadcaster YLE has acquired adventure melodrama Once Upon a Time in Odessa (12x50′) and will air a subtitled version.
“It’s our first sale into Finland,” said Bill Peck, international sales consultant for Star, speaking to C21 from his suite here at Natpe Budapest. The series follows the life of a Ukrainian gangster in the early 20th century and was produced by Star in 2011 for First Channel in Russia.
The Japanese deal sees Tokyo-based distributor Aya Pro picking up all rights to Star’s military drama 3 Days in the Life of Lt Kravtsov, produced by Star for Russiya Channel.
“They’ll dub the series into Japanese and initially distribute it to the home video and video-on-demand markets,” said Peck. “Selling anything into Japan is quite a feat these days.”
Peck added that Aya Pro would also pitch Lt Kravtsov to TV networks in Japan. The firm has previously acquired Star series Caravan Hunters (4x60′) and action war movie A Quiet Outpost for local subtitling and distribution.
As well as these two series, Star is in Budapest shopping new series Freud’s Method, a contemporary detective drama about a psychologist and professional poker player who helps police crack cases. Peck likened the 12x60′ show to US crime dramas Numb3rs and The Mentalist.
“Demand for Russian programming in Central and Eastern Europe is high because they are mostly Slavic countries, so there’s a similarity in terms of culture,” said Peck.
“But Romania isn’t a Slavic country and they love our programmes and Russian programmes in general. That started when Romanian Television had great success with our 24-part drama In the Forests & Mountains.”
However, Peck was down on the possibility of Russian studios finding coproduction partners in the region. “Everyone in Central and Eastern Europe talks about coproduction but not many people are actually doing it.”
In other sales for Star, talent format Go Dance!, has been licensed to Norwegian prodco Nice Entertainment for local production. No Norwegian net was announced, though the format started life on Ukraine’s Inter TV and has since been optioned to US prodco My Tupelo Entertainment and France’s Effervescence.