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Video game developer Gearbox Entertainment has teamed with showrunner Scott Rosenbaum (Queen of the South, V, Gang Related) to adapt its shooter franchise Brothers in Arms for the small screen.
Rosenbaum will serve as showrunner of the new series, as well as executive producer alongside Gearbox co-founder and CEO Randy Pitchford. Rosenbaum was represented in the deal by Jeff Okin, Anonymous Content and Gendler/Kelly. Jean-Julien Baronnet (who served as producer on Ubisoft’s 2016 Assassin’s Creed film), Richard Whelan (Band of Brothers: The Pacific, Captain America, Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw) and Sean Haran (chief business officer, Gearbox Entertainment) will also serve as producers on the series.
Debuting in 2005, Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 centered on a group of paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines on D-Day. The original game, which launched on PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC, was based on true events of the historic Mission Albany of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment. The success of the original title launched a series of games across various consoles and mobile devices.
“I love the stories we told in the games, and we do have more stories to tell, but a TV show lets us explore this subject matter and the effect on the relationships and people in broader ways,” Pitchford tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Like the games, the first season of Brothers in Arms is inspired by true events in World War II. The initial episodes will focus on a once-confidential operation called Exercise Tiger, a “rehearsal” for D-Day that went disastrously wrong.
“The story we ended up using has never been dramatized on TV,” says Rosenbaum. “Almost 800 U.S. servicemen were killed and it had to be covered up because the Allies were preparing for the real Normandy invasion.”
The story will center on a group of eight men who must rescue their colonel from Axis powers before the enemy can learn of D-Day plans, but Rosenbaum says it will also feature characters from both sides of the historical conflict, including real-life figures from World War II.
“What I liked and hadn’t seen before, is we explore German soldiers and civilians and those in high command on both sides,” says Rosenbaum. “We meet all these real people and see the effect and the big puzzle.”
Baronnet notes that the classified true story, and the scope of Brothers in Arms’ narrative, makes the series unique from other projects focusing on World War II. “We found an angle that was really original and we think very different from other war shows,” he says, emphasizing the show’s focus on “brotherhood.”
Those qualities are what ultimately drew Rosenbaum to the project. “Almost all the World War II shows that crossed my desk very much felt like I’d seen them before,” he says. “When Gearbox came to me and I learned about Exercise Tiger and a series about all the classified elements of the war, it became very exciting to me.”
Full production on the series has not begun, but the team says they are “actively looking for directors” and want an “ambitious” broadcast partner that shares their big ideas for the show. “We want to change the game,” says Baronnet.
Casting is also a ways into the future, but Pitchford says outside of big names, he’s hoping to land some fresh faces that “people may not be looking at” for the series.
In February, Gearbox revealed it was also working on a film adaptation of another of its franchises, Borderlands, for the big screen with director Eli Roth. Video game adaptations are a hot trend in Hollywood currently, with Netflix’s The Witcher recently bowing to record viewership, Showtime currently developing a Halo TV series and companies like Sony and Ubisoft mining their catalogues through their own studios for film and television.
“The proliferation of all these streaming services has created tremendous demand for content so people are mining IP,” says Haran. “Gaming just happens to be the largest form of entertainment globally so there’s a lot of material to mine.”
Baronnet stresses the importance of working with the creatives on the gaming side when adapting projects for Hollywood. “You have to make sure to respect the brand,” he says. “Gearbox has full creative control because they know exactly what gamers can and will expect but we also want to bring things to the show that you can’t find in the game and to attract non-gamers.”
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