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MGM International Television Productions has signed a multi-year production and development deal with Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT) that will see the two companies develop and co-produce six English-language original international series for NENT Group’s Viaplay streaming service.
The first two projects under the new deal will be the Western drama series Billy the Kid from Vikings writer Michael Hirst starring British actor Tom Blyth (Benediction) as the legendary Wild West outlaw, and the apocalyptic thriller Last Light, starring, and executive produced by Matthew Fox (Lost), as the father of a family fighting to survive in a world suddenly thrown into chaos. Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey) co-stars.
Billy the Kid has been set up as a co-production with EPIX Studios and MGM International Television Productions in association with NENT Group. Otto Bathurst (Peaky Blinders) will direct the first two episodes of the show’s first eight-episode season.
MGM and NENT, in association with Peacock, will produce Last Light. Based on Alex Scarrow’s best-selling novel of the same name, the project originated at Viaplay Studios, Make It Happen Studio and REinvent. Dennie Gordon (Jack Ryan) is directing the entire five-episode series and will serve as executive producer. Patrick Massett and John Zinman (The Blacklist) serve as showrunners and executive producers on the show.
The deal comes as Viaplay kicks off its international roll-out. The streamer service, already a major regional player in the Nordic territories, earlier this year launched a Polish version of its SVOD service. A U.S. version of Viaplay is set to bow in late 2021.
“Viaplay will soon be available in at least 16 markets and unique storytelling is a key part of our expansion strategy,” Filippa Wallestam, NENT Group chief content officer said in a statement explaining the MGM deal. “We are proud of our long-term partnership with MGM and that we are now working together to co-produce series with some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Series like Billy the Kid and Last Light show the scale of our ambitions and will help put Viaplay on the map in our latest territories even faster.”
Added Rola Bauer, president, MGM International Television Productions: “NENT Group’s focus on developing premium, global stories through an international lens aligns perfectly with our mission at MGM International TV Productions.”
Viaplay has doubled down on original series as it makes its global push. At least 60 Viaplay Originals are set to premiere in 2022. Alongside the many Scandinavian productions, such as crime drama Face to Face with In A Better World stars
Ulrich Thomsen and Trine Dyrholm, and Arctic mystery thriller The Head, Viaplay is also planning to produce at least two major English-language feature films annually focused on Nordic figures and events. Upcoming features include Hilma, a biopic of Swedish artist and feminist pioneer Hilma af Klint written starring Lena Olin (Enemies, A Love Story) and directed by Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules).
Since its launch last year, MGM International Television Production has six greenlit projects in production and has first-look deals with international TV talents such as Sydney Gallonde (The Reunion), Erika Halvorsen (Desire), Tamara Tenenbaum (The End of Love) and leading Spanish talent manager Ruth Franco.
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