9:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Fox International Channels Launching Studio Division With 'Outcast' (Exclusive)
Fox International Channels is looking to build on its global success from The Walking Dead and apply it to its upcoming Cinemax exorcism drama Outcast.
FIC — the company that distributes Walking Dead worldwide and is a strategic partner on the zombie drama — identified AMC's ratings juggernaut during its script stage. The company teamed with Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman early on to partner as the studio behind his upcoming comics-to-TV take, Outcast. As part of that push, FIC is launching Fox International Studios, to be headed by Sharon Tal Yguado. With the creation of the studio, Yguado will now serve as executive vp scripted entertainment at FIC and head of Fox International Studios.
The creation of a studio marks a noted departure for FIC, which retains licensing rights outside of the U.S. to Outcast and recently screened the Patrick Fugit starrer for international buyers at the recent Los Angeles Screenings.
"Content ownership is very important to us," Yguado tells THR. "We experimented with content ownership in different ways: The Walking Dead was a version of content ownership where we took international rights; with Outcast, it's full ownership and that allows us more freedom."
Recognizing as much, Yguado looked to build on FIC's successful relationship with Kirkman and approached the comic book creator between seasons one and two of the zombie drama to find out his next project. At that time, Outcast was just an idea that Kirkman had to explore the complexities of demos and religion. Yguado was immediately sold on the idea.
"He was busy with The Walking Dead and it took him six months to get a pitch, and then we developed it for another year and a half," she recalls of the process that allowed Kirkman to write his first pilot and tell a the story he wanted to tell. "When we had a script we were proud of, then we went to the U.S. market to find a partner."
What resulted was a multiple cable network bidding war for the story of Kyle Barnes, a guy who has been plagued by demonic possession since he was a child. Now an adult, he embarks on a spiritual journey to find answers, but what he uncovers could mean the end of life on Earth as we know it. Like The Walking Dead, the Cinemax series is based on a comic but is not a scene-for-scene remake.
"Outcast was pitched in a very casual nature to her [Yguado] many moons ago, and it was her passion and drive for it that kept moving the project along at a time when I was very distracted and working on The Walking Dead," Kirkman tells THR. "Having her be so involved and driven and engaged has been pretty exciting. Often when you're working with a studio, you're not going to encounter a person like that."
"We take a boutique approach," Yguado says of FIS' approach to development. "We won't develop more than 10 projects. We take the European development approach: fall in love with a project, believe in a writer and focus on few projects — nurture them and then find a partner."
The focus, she says, is to find stories with the potential to launch globally — a la The Walking Dead — that can break through the increasing clutter of original scripted fare. "We're looking for cable shows, focusing more on serialized storytelling with big, bold characters and stories that can make a difference," she notes, adding that procedurals won't be on her radar.
For Kirkman, partnering with FIS on Outcast means the drama has the potential to get in front of just as many eyeballs as The Walking Dead. "The Walking Dead was really the first TV show that was ever launched on a global scale, much like movies. It was the first time a TV show was broadcast in America and hundreds of different countries. That's a model that hasn't really been replicated since. Being able to do that with Outcast and having the full power of Fox International gives us a leg up on the project and gets it in front of as many eyeballs."