21st Century Fox's Sky Deutschland Greenlights Superhero Series 'Diabolik'

Based on a popular Italian comic book, the show will be a co-production of Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia and BSkyB.
Based on a popular Italian comic book, the show will be a co-production of Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia and BSkyB.

21st Century Fox's German pay TV outfit Sky Deutschland has greenlit its first-ever original drama series, an adaptation of popular Italian comic book Diabolik about a master thief who steals from other criminals and can take on any identity he wishes.

The Diabolik series will be a co-production of Sky Deutschland and 21st Century Fox's Sky Italia and BSkyB. It will be the first project to involve all three European pay TV operations controlled by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.

Created in 1962 by Italian sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani, the Diabolik series has been a huge hit, especially in Italy, where the monthly Diabolik issues can run to 400,000 copies. The 800th issue of Diabolik was published last year.

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The character has already inspired at least one feature film: Mario Bava's Danger: Diabolik in 1968, and an animated series, Diabolik, which premiered on Fox Kids in Europe in 2000 and ran for one 36-episode season.

Dressed in a skintight black bodysuit, Diabolik is typically depicted as an anti-hero who does not hesitate to kill or maim anyone who gets in his way. He does not, however, use standard-issue guns, preferring daggers or dart guns to take out his targets. He works with his partner, and lover, Eva Kant, always a step ahead of his arch-enemy, the incorruptible police inspector Ginko. The Diabolik stories are set in the fictional city of Clerville, believed to be loosely based on Geneva, Switzerland.

Sky is currently developing Diabolik as a 10-episode live-action series.

The project ties in with a general strategy at 21st Century Fox's European pay TV networks to move into original programming. BSkyB has pledged to invest some £600 million ($1 billion) in homegrown British programming by 2014, commissioning high-end series such as The Tunnel starring Stephen Dillane and Clemence Poesy, the U.K.-France adaptation of Scandi crime series The Bridge, a co-production with Canal+; and Arctic-set procedural Fortitude, which BSkyB's Sky Atlantic is producing with U.S. pay TV group Starz. Sky Italia has made a similarly bold move into original drama with its mafia series Gomorra.