HBO Europe to Focus on Original Drama Following Success of Adaptations

Pustina Still HBO Europe H 2016
Courtesy HBO Europe

The subscriber service launched its latest freshly penned drama, Czech drama 'Pustina,' at a gala screening at the Karlovy Vary film festival.

HBO Europe is to focus on developing original drama as it builds on the success of a raft of adaptations across its core Central and Eastern European territories.

The subscriber satellite service launched its latest freshly penned drama, Czech series Pustina (Wasteland), at a special gala screening at the Karlovy Vary film festival late Tuesday. The series, written by Stepan Hulik, the scriptwriter on Agnieszka Holland's Burning Bush, is the second original drama to be offered to HBO Europe subscribers after Polish thriller Wataha (The Pack).

Wahata recently aired in the U.K. on Walter Presents, the Channel 4 foreign-language drama series slot under the title The Border.

"The trend now is to developing more original programming," Antony Root, HBO Europe's executive vp original programming and production, told The Hollywood Reporter.

"We shall continue to do adaptations, but are not looking to do a lot more because we are confident in the ability now of our writers to produce original content."

Although HBO Europe's next new series, Romania's Valea Muta (Silent Valley) — a four-hour series also launching in the fall — is adapted from an original Norwegian NRK six-hour series Eyewitness, subscribers will increasingly see original drama when they tune in, he added.

Valea Muta hinges on the conundrum faced by two young homosexual men who witness a series of brutal murders while engaged in clandestine tryst in a mountain hideaway. If they come forward as witnesses they risk revealing their love to a critical world.

Directed by Marian Crisan, the drama is expected to prove controversial for Romanian viewers, Root said.

"Something that may not have been seen as particularly controversial for Norwegian audiences will play very differently in Romania."

In the longer term Root hopes that HBO Europe may produce original drama that captures the attention of the world — in the way that Scandinavian crime thrillers have over the past few years.

"We've been nurturing writers at workshops across our territories and believe we shall see the dividends from that," he added.

Valea Muta will be available to HBO Europe subscribers in 19 countries, including its core territories of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Kosova, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It will also be available to viewers of HBO Nordic in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark and in the Netherlands via HBO Nederland.