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COLOGNE, Germany – Director Michael Caton-Jones (Rob Roy, The Jackal) has signed on to direct World Without End, the sequel to Golden Globe-nominated series The Pillars of the Earth.
The $43 million, eight-part TV epic, based on the best-seller by Ken Follett, starts principle photography July 4 in Budapest. Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free, Germany’s Tandem Communications and Canada’s Take 5 are producing. Casting is underway.
“Michael will bring an authoritative and experienced directorial voice to this sweeping epic,” Ridley Scott said of Caton-Jones, whose credits also include the Robert De Niro and James Franco-starrer City By The Sea and episodes of the BBC’s award-winning series Spooks.
“I told my agent I was interested in getting into high-end TV because I feel the kind of intelligent adult film I like to make has migrated to cable TV,” Caton-Jones told The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m an actor’s director and World Without End lets me be that, make something smart for grown-ups.”
Caton-Jones, who is repped by Gersch and managed by Echo Lake, said the production set-up at World, with German-based Tandem and London/L.A. operation Scott Free, also appealed to him.
“Tandem and Scott Free are working in the American marketplace but with a European sensibility,” Caton-Jones said. “They understood where I was coming form and what I wanted to do, which was make a series that bridges the American and European sensibilities. Something that’s not so obscure or suicidal as say a Scandinavian production but also not as crass as an extremely American approach. High quality acting, high quality costuming with a pace that would not be out of place on U.S. television.”
World Without End follows the lives of four people in 14th century England caught up in the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death. The 2007 novel spent 30 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was a hit around the world. It is the sequel to Follett’s even-more successful medieval epic The Pillars of the Earth, which was an Oprah Book Club pick. Tandem and Scott Free turned Pillars into an eight-part series which aired last year on pay net Starz and sold around the world.
Starz co-developed World but is not currently attached to the project. Tandem has closed the shooting budget with pre-sales to Channel 4 in the U.K., Canada’s Shaw Media, ProSiebenSat.1 in Germany, Spain’s Cuatro, Austria’s ORF and Italian pay net SkyItalia.
Tandem will be trying to lock down further deals, and will be scoping out potential domestic partners, at international television market MIPTV next week.
World Without End is the latest in a flood of high-end period series – including The Tudors, The Borgias and Camelot – financed using an international co-production model more typically used for independent feature film production.
“That so many people are co-producing shows now doesn’t surprise me,” says Tandem co-head Rola Bauer. “It’s a way for networks all over the world to finance big productions. I’ve been talking about this for years so it’s exciting to see the world is realizing you don’t have to work on national islands to produce television. You can work together to bring these stories to the world.”
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