Sony, Gaumont to Bring 'Hannibal' to AXN Networks Worldwide

David Slade Headshot 2011
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"Twilight: Eclipse" director David Slade will direct the series' pilot, based on "The Silence of the Lambs" villain Hannibal Lecter.

COLOGNE, Germany - Sony Pictures Television Networks and France's Gaumount International Television have signed a deal that will see Sony pick up Gaumont's hotly-anticipated new series Hannibal for its pay TV network AXN worldwide.

SPT Networks vp of programming and production, Marie Jacobson and Erik Pack, head of international distribution and co-production at Gaumount International Television, made the announcement Wednesday.

NBC has given a 13-episode mid-season order for Hannibal, which focuses on Hannibal Lecter, the psychiatrist turned serial killer from Thomas Harris' best-selling novels "Red Dragon," "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Hannibal." The TV series will return to the beginning of Lecter's relationship with FBI agent Will Graham, to be played by The Big C actor Hugh Dancy. Casting for the Hannibal Lecter character is still underway.

Bryan Fuller, whose writing and producer credits include Heroes and Pushing Daisies, is executive producer on Hannibal. David Slade, director of Twilight: Eclipse as well as episodes of AMC's Breaking Bad and NBC's Awake, will helm the series' pilot. Production is set to begin late July.

In a separate move, MGM is also developing a drama based on Harris' character of Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster in her Oscar-winning turn in The Silence of the Lambs, for the Lifetime channel in the U.S..

Gaumont is producing Hannibal in association with SPT Networks. Under its deal with SPT, Hannibal will go out on SPT's AXN networks on 63 countries worldwide. The series will have a near day-and-date release tied to NBC's mid-season launch. SPT Networks made a similar global bow for the series The Firm, based on the John Grisham novel. The Firm, which stars Josh Lucas, also airs on NBC. AXN channels reach nearly 200 million households across Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.