Netflix Orders First Canadian Original Series (Exclusive)

Jennette McCurdy
AP Images/Invision

'Between,' starring Jennette McCurdy, will launch in all Netflix territories and a year later on Netflix Canada

Netflix has ordered its first original Canadian production.

The U.S. video streaming giant on Monday will reveal it is backing the Canadian survival thriller Between, which stars Jennette McCurdy (iCarly, Sam & Cat) and is directed by series creator Michael McGowan and Jon Cassar (24, The Kennedys).

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The homegrown drama will debut simultaneously on City, the Canadian TV network that developed the one-hour drama, and in all Netflix territories outside Canada. Also north of the border, Between will initially stream on Shomi, a local market response by City parent company Rogers Communications and rival cable giant Shaw Communications to the domination of online video here by Netflix Canada.

Netflix Canada will then start offering Between a year after its initial premiere. News of the first Canadian show for Netflix follows the U.S. video streaming giant recently clashing with the country's TV regulator on whether the U.S. digital player can be regulated as an Internet streamer.

Erik Barmack, vp global independent content at Netflix, brushed off the recent standoff with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, insisting the U.S. streamer ordered Between because of its creative credentials.

"What you see is the ability of different groups to contribute to a great series. So you have a Canadian broadcaster, you have us and you have Canadian talent all coming together because we're all just excited about the show," Barmack said of the three-way deal for Between involving the U.S. streamer, City and Shomi parent company Rogers Media and Don Carmody Television.

Between executive producer Don Carmody, an Oscar-winning movie producer (Chicago) now shooting his first TV series, said landing Netflix complicated the deal-making, but also brought on board a creative powerhouse best known for original dramas like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black.

"They have been very helpful and supportive in letting the filmmakers make what they want. They haven't been crazy network executives in trying to micro-manage us," Carmody said. 

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The Canadian drama, which has started shooting in Toronto, is produced by Don Carmody Television and McGowan's Mulmur Feed Co., in association with Elevation Pictures Corp. The series portrays a town under siege from a mysterious disease that has wiped out everybody except young people 21 years and under.

Between explores the power vacuum that accompanies a government quarantine around the town that leaves mostly high schoolers to fend for themselves.

Hemlock Grove, an original Netflix horror thriller from Gaumont International Television, shoots in Toronto. And the U.S.-based video portal has already picked up popular Canadian sci-fi series like Bitten and Continuum for its subscribers.

But Between marks a landmark deal as Netflix's first foray into original Canadian drama production in partnership with a local rival. "They're [Netflix] not doing it as an acquisition. It's not an afterthought. It's a pre-sale. There's a different level of commitment, which speaks volumes in terms of showing support for the project," Nataline Rodrigues, director of original programming at Rogers Media, said of the U.S. streamer's backing for the Canadian project she began developing a year ago.

Between is executive produced by David Cormican, Naveen Prasad and McGowan. Elevation Pictures will handle worldwide distribution for the series.

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