Romance Publisher Harlequin Launches Studio for Film, TV Projects

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The studio aims to bring stories to new platforms in North America and globally, beginning with more than 20 films with Canada’s CTV Drama Channel.

Harlequin, a division of Harper Collins Publishers, will launch Harlequin Studios, a move that will dramatically increase the production of Harlequin-branded movie content, it was announced Monday. 

Under the leadership of Brent Lewis, executive vp for Harlequin, Harlequin Studios will draw on the global romance publisher’s extensive best-selling catalog of more than 30,000 titles. The publisher will team with producers, creators, distributors, networks and platforms to deliver movies, series and new forms of Harlequin-branded content. The studio launch is part of the publishing company’s content expansion to new platforms and formats in North America and globally.

"The current landscape for movie content and distribution provides new opportunities to leverage Harlequin content across a broader spectrum of media platforms," Harlequin's publisher and CEO Craig Swinwood said in a statement. "Harlequin Studios will develop content to expand the reach and breadth of our author franchise to grow beyond the book market while cultivating new fans through the development of a robust movie catalogue." 

The news arrives amid a revival of the romantic comedy genre in Hollywood, with a renewed interest also conspicuous among film buyers at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Following Netflix's release of such viral rom-com hits as To All the Boys I've Loved Before and Set It Up, the once-fading genre has found new life again.

Los Angeles is set to welcome the Rom-Com Fest, a new film festival celebrating the art of the romantic comedy, which is slated to run June 20-23. The event will feature anniversary screenings of Never Been Kissed, 10 Things I Hate About You and Bride Wars. 

Meanwhile, the owners of the Ripped Bodice Bookstore — whose Culver City location is the only exclusively romance bookstore found in the U.S. — will also be developing their own romance shows after signing an overall first-look development deal with Sony Pictures Television, according to the Los Angeles Times. The deal is based on their exclusive relationships with romance novel authors and writers as the sole romance-only bookstore in the country. 

Harlequin Studios' first agreement is with Canada’s CTV Drama Channel for the commissioning of more than 20 films, representing more than 40 hours of new Canadian content for the channel. 

Harlequin publishes more than 110 titles a month, in both print and digital formats.