'Transporter' heads to TV

Lagardere, EuropaCorp to produce, shooting begins in 2011

PARIS -- Lagardere Entertainment and EuropaCorp will be shipping out a small-screen version of film franchise "Transporter" overseas, both companies confirmed on Monday.

The co-production about a former special-forces officer hired to transport things across borders for a price is based on EuropaCorp's films, which have made a collective $238 million for its first three titles.

"Transporter -- the Series" will be filmed in English with a budget of $4 million per episode. Lagardere Entertainment subsidiary Atlantic Productions will ensure financing and executive production for the 12 one-hour episodes of the first season.

Discussions are already in the works with major networks for broadcast, though no deals have been signed to date.

"Transporter -- the Series" will start shooting in February 2011 in Europe and Canada with a delivery date set for sometime later in 2011.

The project has yet to sign a director, but the film's writer and show runner is German Alexander Rumelin.

"We wanted to create a series of reference with a budget that rivals current American shows out there," Lagardere's Managing Director of Production and Atlantique Production President Takis Candilis said in an interview.

"For EuropaCorp, the launch of this series forms part of the strategy of enhancing the value of the Group's brands, as well as the desire to strengthen the level of recurring revenues with international expansion plans," EuropaCorp chairman Luc Besson said.

"This is proof that France and, by extension Europe, can drive international production when they're based on concepts as strong as Luc Besson's 'Transporter,' " Candilis said.

He added: "To create a TV series based on an international franchise is evidently a particularly positive thing. The three 'Transporter' films were a huge success in Europe and Asia, so to construct a TV series based on this success is extraordinary."

The production team is currently casting a potpourri of international talent out of London, and will soon be scouting in Toronto and Los Angeles.

Atlantic Productions already has several big-budget projects in the works, including "The Borgias" with Canal Plus, set to start shooting in September, plus Peace Arch Entertainment-France Television's co-production "Child of the Morning," based on Pauline Guedge's best-seller.