January 14, 2014 6:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
It's Official: Netflix Orders 'Marco Polo' to Series
It's official: Netflix is setting sail with Marco Polo.
The streaming service has picked up nine episodes of the drama created by John Fusco (Young Guns II), The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Kon-Tiki Oscar nominees Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, who will direct, will also executive produce along with Dan Minahan (Game of Thrones). Electus' Ben Silverman and Chris Grant will also exec produce. Marco Polo will premiere in late 2014.
The drama was originally developed at Starz, which picked up the project straight to series in January 2012. The cable network released the drama back to producers The Weinstein Co. and Electus after its attempts to film the series in China fizzled. The Netflix series hails from TWC and Electus and will begin shooting at the new Pinewood Studios, Malaysia. The series will feature a global cast, with talent announced later.
The news comes after The Weinstein Co. in August was mulling whether to set up the series at Netflix as a nine-episode order or a feature film version of the project. Harvey and Bob Weinstein originally developed the idea alongside Silverman. Electus will distribute the series internationally.
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Marco Polo focuses on the famed explorer’s journey, which takes him to the center of a brutal war in 13th century China -- a world replete with astonishing martial arts, sexual intrigue, political skullduggery and spectacular battles.
"John Fusco and his team have created a timeless tale of power, adventure, betrayal and lust that combines deft storytelling and cinematic ambition,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said. "It is a fantastic addition to our slate of original series, both because of its quality and because it is the kind of gripping action-adventure that Netflix members love."
Added TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein: "With the glowing success of series like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, it's clear that Netflix is breaking tremendous ground in the realm of streaming original content. We could not be more excited to partner with them on this project, along with the creative tour de force of John Fusco and his talented team."
The series joins a Netflix original series lineup that includes the second season of Orange Is the New Black, horror-thriller Hemlock Grove, Lilyhammer, House of Cards and four upcoming Marvel series as well as a Defenders mini.
The pickup comes as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has plans to double the company's original series in 2014.