FremantleMedia, Jadran Film to Produce Croatian Drama Series

Marija Juric Zagorka Statue

The firms will adapt the work of writer Marija Juric Zagorka, dubbed Croatia's first female journalist, starting with her best-seller 'The Witch of Gric.'

FremantleMedia is teaming up with production shingle Jadran Film to co-develop and produce a television adaptation of the work of the late Marija Juric Zagorka, one of Croatia's most popular and acclaimed writers.

The deal, announced at the New European Market in Dubrovnik, Croatia, on June 11, will kick off with an adaptation of Zagorka's best-seller The Witch of Gric. The seven-novel cycle has sold more than 10 million copies across Central and Eastern Europe.

The books, which are part historical romance, part adventure tale, are set in the second half of the 18th century and tell the story of the beautiful Countess Nera Keglevic, who inspires envy among the woman of the Zagreb aristocracy. When Nera tries to save a group of poor women from a witch hunt, her rivals use this as an opportunity to accuse her of witchcraft and have her tried and executed.

The complicated plot, involving royal intrigue, romance and even a serial killer, would appear to provide sufficient material for a multi-season drama. FremantleMedia is looking to bring in international investment to boost the budget of The Witch of Gric to make it competitive on the world market. Zagorka is one of the most-read writers in Croatia and a best-seller across Central and Eastern Europe, but her novels have never been translated into English.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Jadran Film in order to bring the work of Marija Juric Zagorka to international audiences,” said Ana Habajec, managing director of FremantleMedia Croatia, in a statement. “The combination of our skills and passion will see Zagorka recognized not just as a Croatian heroine, but as a world brand.”

Zagreb-based Jadran Film has produced over films in its 70-year history and was a co-producer on 2006 Berlin Film Festival winner Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams.

“Jadran Film has long held the ambition to bring Marija Juric Zagorka’s work to audiences outside Central Europe,” added Vinko Grubisic, CEO of Jadran Film. “By working with the production and distribution expertise of FremantleMedia, there is now a real opportunity to bring audiences around world the brilliant storytelling of one of Croatia’s most-loved authors.”

FremantleMedia and Jadran Film are also looking at developing some of Zagorka's other works, including the murder mystery The Princess From Petrinjska Street; Gordana, which looks at a battle for power that climaxed with the Battle of the Mohacs in 1526; and Jadranka, her last novel, which deals with the repression of Croatian nationalists under Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph.

Croatia is already a hot location for international shoots. The walled city of Dubrovnik is the backdrop for King's Landing on HBO's Game of Thrones, and series such as Borgia, Crossing Lines and Dig have taken advantage of the country's stunning landscapes, as well as its 20 percent tax rebate.