HBO Europe Presses Ahead With Original Drama Content

Burning Bush - H - 2013
HBO Europe

Its first local-language production, "Burning Bush," has been successful critically and commercially.

DUBROVNIK, CROATIA – Inspired by the success of the Czech language miniseries Horici ker (Burning Bush), HBO Europe is pressing ahead with producing local-language content in Central and Eastern Europe.

"HBO as an American and as an international brand is associated with original and innovative work," Antony Root, executive vp original programming and production, HBO Europe, told The Hollywood Reporter at New Europe Market in Dubrovnik, Croatia. "And that's certainly our aspiration."

Burning Bush, HBO's first original drama in a local language in Central Europe, is set during the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1969. The series is directed by Agnieszka Holland, premiered in January 2013 and later collected numerous awards. Since the Czech premiere, the three-episode miniseries has been aired in other markets, including France, and a theatrical version has recently been released in the United States.

STORY: AMC/Sundance Channel Plans Central, Eastern Europe Expansion

"I think it's gonna take time before the majority of our drama work is original," Root said. "And that's because, for one thing, there isn't a heritage in this region of screenwriting for drama series."

According to Root, as a group of writers is being built up in the region's countries, HBO will be producing more and more original drama work in Central Europe.

HBO currently produces drama, including adaptation of imported formats, in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania. In each of these countries, new original TV series are in development.

Meanwhile, a new original Polish-language TV series, Wataha (The Pack), is to air later this year.

Root added that -- although at some point in the future production of local-language drama series could be expanded to other countries -- there are no immediate plans to do that.