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Medici: The Magnificent, a follow-up to Medici: Masters of Florence, premiered Wednesday at a special gala at Palazzo Medici in Florence, Italy. Guests wined and dined at the original home of the family that built the Renaissance city, mingling among the locales where the new series was shot, including the famed Chapel of the Magi and grand courtyard.
The project was co-produced by Rome’s Lux Vide with Rai Fiction, Altice Group and Big Light Productions. Luca Bernabei and Frank Spotnitz produced the show, with Beta Film handling distribution. Season two of the series, created by Spotnitz and Nicholas Meyer, was directed by Jon Cassar and Jan Maria Michelini.
Ahead of the official launch of season two on Rai1 beginning Oct. 23, a third season has sold globally, including to Sky Germany, Telefonica Moviestar+ Spain, SFR Play France, and Netflix in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada and India. Beta Films is handling international sales, with 100 territories sold thus far and a global aim of 200 following the international premiere at MIPCOM next week.
Season two picks up 20 years after the first season in 15th century Florence. The series opens with Daniel Sharman as Lorenzo de’ Medici, who takes over leadership of his family’s bank after an assassination attempt on his father. The season ends with the infamous Pazzi conspiracy. Sean Bean stars as the villainous Jacopo de’ Pazzi, who fights against the enlightened state Lorenzo attempts to create.
The second season includes greater action sequences and behind the political turmoil as it tells the story of the young generation fighting against the established order. It is also a celebration of Italian excellence, revealing how Lorenzo shaped the economy and culture of Italy and Europe in his construction of multiple public buildings as well as his vast support of artists including Botticelli and Michelangelo.
Season one, which starred Richard Madden and Dustin Hoffman, was a huge success, with an average share of 27.7 percent in Italy on Rai1, as well as being sold to more than 100 countries globally. Season two, with its amped-up storyline and younger cast, is expected to be an even greater draw for fans of the show.
The cast includes a mix of Italian and international actors, including Bradley James, Sarah Parish, Alessandra Mastronardi, Julian Sands, Synnove Karlse, Matteo Martari, Matilda Lutz, Guido Caprino, Charlie Vickers, Jack Bannon, Filippo Nigro, Annabel Scholey and Raoul Bova.
Season three, which has already started shooting, will reveal Lorenzo’s internal struggle as he loses faith in the city he had determined to build, clashing with its people and their growing discontent. The third season will add actors William Franklyn-Miller, Jack Roth and Francesco Montanari.
“We want to build a star system in Italy, both in terms of the actors and the Italian crew,” said Rai’s head of fiction Eleonora Andreatta on the decision to mix local and international casts. The series is shot in English and dubbed for local markets.
Luca Bernabei, CEO of Lux Vide, which financed one third of the series, said at the launch: “I believe that we need to put our best energies toward these investments, investments of ideals. I think we have raised the quality even further in this series. Italy in the world of television can be great the way it was during the Renaissance.”
Lux Vide is partnering with Rai to create a variety of shows following all major events of the Renaissance, including various series on the artists who revolutionized Italian culture. Given a fourth season of Medici, they hope to tackle the story of Catherine de’ Medici, who became the queen and regent of France.
“This is the story about the Renaissance, but it’s being made for a modern audience,” said Spotnitz. “In Lorenzo you find a young man born in privilege who determines that given the advantages he was raised with he can make a better world.”
“This was an extremely innovative family,” said Lux Vide president Matilde Bernabei. “They weren’t only building for their time, but also for the next generation.”
As both seasons include former Game of Thrones actors and the season even opens with a sword fight, the crew was asked if the decision to have GOT actors Madden and Bean was intentional.
“There is certainly political intrigue in jockeying for power. And I think when you get to the final two episodes, the scenes between Jacopo and Lorenzo are incredibly powerful because they’re two completely different views of the world crashing up against each other,” said Spotnitz.
“I don’t think I literally meant to bring Game of Thrones to Medici. They are vastly different,” he continued. “But there’s a style of collaboration in American television where writers collaborate without ego to generate the most powerful narrative possible and it was that methodology that I wanted to bring to this project.”
“And there are no dragons,” added Bean.
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