Esquire Network Takes ITV Studios' 'Beowulf' Series

The MIPCOM-bowing 'Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands' will premiere and air on the network in early 2016.

ITV Studios' upcoming 13-part retelling of the ancient Beowulf epic didn't even make it to the French Riviera before being snapped up for U.S. audiences.

Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands is due to launch in MIPCOM next week, with its premiere screening in Cannes set for Oct. 5. But Esquire Networks has already swooped in for the drama, which stars Kieran Bew (Da Vinci’s Demons, The Bletchley Circle) in the lead role, plus William Hurt (Humans, Kiss of the Spider Woman), Joanne Whalley (Wolf Hall, Jamaica Inn), Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey) and David Ajala (Black Box). It was created and exec produced by ITV Studios’ Tim Haines and Katie Newman together with James Dormer, who is also the writer.

The exclusive deal will see the show premiere and air on Esquire Network in early 2016. 

"Delivering well-produced, engaging programming to our audience is vital, and we’re excited to bring such an action-packed, scripted adventure series to Esquire with the launch of Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands," said Esquire Network's newly promoted exec vp development and production, Matt Hanna, on the deal, which was announced on Wednesday.

"Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands is an ambitious action adventure, which takes the audience into a spectacular mythical world of heroes and fantastical creatures," added ITV Studios exec vp distribution for the Americas, Greg Johnson.

"Our aim is to accelerate windows to get our content to consumers faster, so we are delighted that U.S. viewers will be able to enjoy the show on Esquire Network soon after U.K. viewers, and we expect a huge amount of interest from international buyers when we launch the series to the global market at MIPCOM."

Beowulf is just one of a number of high-profile productions coming out of ITV Studios. Other projects include gangster series Mafiya, set in Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union and with The Weinstein Co. on board, and four-part drama Tutankhamun, telling the story of archeologist Howard Carter's famed discovery of the tomb of one of Egypt's forgotten pharaohs.