Canal Plus, Sky Studios Team Up on ‘Django’ TV Series Toplining Matthias Schoenaerts

Canal Plus and Sky Studios have teamed up on Spaghetti Western TV series “Django” with production set to start in May and German actor Matthias Schoenaerts (“Bullhead”) in the title role.

Co-produced by Italy’s Cattleya, which is controlled by ITV, and France’s Atlantique Productions, “Django” is being described as a high-concept English-language reimagining of the cult 1966 Sergio Corbucci Western that launched the career of Italian icon Franco Nero, but with the grit and edginess of today’s premium TV.

The series’ executive producers include Riccardo Tozzi for Cattleya and Olivier Bibas for Atlantique Productions.

The show is set in the Wild West in the 1860s and 1870s. “Sarah and John have founded New Babylon, a city of outcasts, full of men and women of all backgrounds, races and creeds, that welcomes everyone with open arms,” reads the synopsis.

“Haunted by the murder of his family eight years earlier, Django is still looking for his daughter, believing she may have survived the killing. He is shocked to find her in New Babylon, about to marry John.  But Sarah, now a grown woman, wants Django to leave, as she fears he will put New Babylon in jeopardy if he stays.  However, Django, believing the city is in danger, is adamant that he will not lose his daughter twice.”

Django was commissioned by Nicola Maccanico, executive VP of programming for Sky Italia, alongside Nils Hartmann and Sonia Rovai who also executive produce for Sky Studios. It was also commissioned for Canal Plus by Arielle Saracco, head of Canal Plus Création Originale, and Fabrice de la Patellière, Canal Plus head of drama.

The new take on “Django,” which does not take its cue from Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 homage “Django Unchained,” will be broadcast on Canal Plus channels in France, Benelux and Africa and on Comcast-owned paybox Sky’s services in Italy, the U.K. Ireland, Austria and Germany. Studio Canal has global distribution rights.

The first episodes will be directed by Francesca Comencini (“Gomorrah” the series) (pictured) who will also serve as the series’ artistic director. “Django” was created and written by Leonardo Fasoli (“Gomorrah” the series, “ZeroZeroZero”) and Maddalena Ravagli (“Gomorrah” the series), who, together, also co-wrote the series treatment with Francesco Cenni and Michele Pellegrini, with two episodes written by Max Hurwitz (“ZeroZeroZero,” “Manhunt”).

“I was extremely attracted to this project as it features extremely strong female characters and delivers a thought-provoking reappraisal of masculinity in the Western genre,” Comencini said in a statement. “It’s a universal story with a narrative that celebrates diversity and minorities. I am certain Django will intrigue and captivate global viewers,” she added.

“The Western is one of the most traditional and popular genres with Django one of the best loved films in Italy and around the world,” said Nicola Maccanico, EVP Programming Sky Italia, who added that “Django fits perfectly with Sky Studios’ mission to develop and produce the best original content in Europe.”

“We share with the series’ creators, producers and partners the willingness to offer an original and European version of the Western – a mythical and very popular genre,”  said Fabrice de la Patellière, Head of Canal Plus Drama.

Anne Chérel, EVP Global Sales and Distribution and Beatriz Campos, SVP Global Sales and Production Financing, TV Series at Studio Canal said they “fell in love with Django immediately because of the unique angle brought to a very traditional genre.” “By highlighting modern themes within a classic Western, the creators will reimagine the genre and explore complex narratives with strong female characters,” they added.

 

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