Banijay Launches Bunim/Murray, Yellow Bird Joint Venture for U.S. Drama Push


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The French group will bring together its two companies as it stakes out its scripted drama territory.

French TV production giant Banijay Group is launching the drama producer Yellow Bird in the U.S.

The new banner is set up as a joint venture between two Banijay properties — the Los Angeles-based Bunim/Murray Productions (BMP) and Sweden's Yellow Bird, which sits under Banijay Nordics — for Banijay's first foray into scripted drama in America.

It is the latest move during a busy period for Banijay, which took a majority stake in French drama producer Terence Films earlier this week and is talks to buy the global juggernaut Endemol Shine.

The U.S. banner will be headed by Marianne Gray, who produced Morten Tyldum's thriller Headhunters and the political drama series Occupied. She will work alongside BMP CEO Gil Goldschein (Keeping Up With the Kardashians) in BMP's L.A. office.

The U.S. arm will focus on developing English-language scripted dramas for the American audience, as well as shows using Banijay's existing formats. Gray has already optioned two novels: the New York Times best-seller I Found You by Lisa Jewell and Swedish author Asa Schwartz's The 7 Keys.

"The partnership with Bunim/Murray provides the perfect opportunity to transport Yellow Bird into the U.S., and I look forward to bringing a Scandi edge to the American scripted market. While the setup is in its early stages, we already have two of our formats in the works and a couple of new book titles we are looking to introduce to the market," said Gray.

"Yellow Bird U.S. is the result of two of the group’s leading brands coming together in one of the world’s biggest markets," said Banijay CEO Marco Bassetti. "The original Swedish label has long built a strong reputation for high-quality, award-winning drama, and we look forward to seeing this success replicated via the partnership with fellow market-leader BMP."

The 15-year-old Yellow Bird has been branching out lately, with a U.K. production house having opened in London earlier this year.

Added Goldschein: "In light of BMP’s own scripted aspirations, the current appetite for global, quality dramas and Yellowbird’s stellar reputation, we both felt that a partnership in the U.S. would be key to taking the brand to the next level worldwide."