Leonine, Syrreal Team on Count of Monte Cristo Series 'Santiago' (Exclusive)

Fred Kogel, Christian Alvart Split - H 2020
Courtesy of Leonine; Getty

The new German mini-major has teamed up with Christian Alvart’s company on the modern update of Alexandre Dumas' classic.

New German mini-major Leonine is teaming up with Christian Alvart's Syrreal Entertainment on Santiago, a modern-day adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' revenge classic The Count of Monte Cristo. The series, which is part of a co-development deal with Syrreal, is the first major TV project from Leonine.

In Dumas' story, Edmond Dantès, a young merchant sailor, is arrested, falsely accused of treason and imprisoned in a grim fortress. But he manages to escape and plots revenge against all who have wronged him.

The new series is based on a pitch by Adolfo J. Kolmerer and Arend Remmers, the director and writer of 2017 German crime comedy Schneeflöckchen. Kolmerer and Remmers are creating the series together with Alvart, the director of Netflix's crime series Dogs of Berlin and such feature films as Pandorum and Antibodies. Kolmerer and Alvart are attached to direct the series, which is planned as two, eight-episode seasons.

In addition to bringing the Count of Monte Cristo plot into the modern day, Santiago will shift locations from France to a Venezuelan prison to Germany and across Europe.

“We want [Santiago] to be gritty and grounded in a contemporary reality while staying true to the larger-than-life feeling and sense of adventure that made the original story so exciting,” says Remmers. Adds Cosima von Spreti, head of co-financing and co-production at Leonine: “We see great international potential and with the original storytelling at its core, we feel it is just the right kind of premium content [for us].”

Santiago will be the big TV series from Leonine, which was only formed last year when private equity company KKR acquired and merged German indies Universum and Tele-München Group together with production shingles Wiedemann & Berg and i&u TV. Since then, Leonine has been on a buying streak, releasing features such as Knives Out and Hustlers in the German market and snatching up high-profile titles including Roland Emmerich's upcoming sci-fi epic Moonfall and Gerard Butler action-thriller Remote Control, which Leonine picked up for the German-speaking territories at this year's European Film Market.

The company also picked up international sales rights for Herzogpark, a new German drama series that RTL's streaming platform TVNow has commissioned from producers Letterbox Filmproduktion (Bad Banks) and director Jochen Alexander Freydank (Spielzeugland).