Left Bank Pictures talks genesis of The Crown
Left Bank Pictures CEO Andy Harries talked about the genesis of high-end TV drama series The Crown at last week’s Screen Film Summit in central London.
The first series is currently streaming on Netflix and the second is in production. Multiple seasons are planned to tell the full story of the Queen and the Royal Family through the decades.
Harries told the summit that the series was pitched to most of the major US television networks with Left Bank, writer Peter Morgan and director/producer Stephen Daldry as the main creative team.
Morgan had written a 90-minute feature episode to demonstrate tone and style.
“Netflix bought it on the spot,” Harries said. “You could tell immediately that they were very serious about it and could see the attraction of the story of the British Royal Family as a global brand, which is what they are.”
The basic deal – with a production budget of $5m an episode – was agreed before Netflix announced a major global expansion plan and this led to some complications as Harries was initially keen to bring in the BBC on the deal. Once the details were ironed out, Harries said he was very happy with the result.
“Netflix has been very interested in casting and has been hugely supportive but otherwise there have been no written notes and they’ve been totally hands-off,” he told the summit.
Harries also revealed that he doesn’t know the audience ratings for The Crown’s first series, which launched on 4 November.
Netflix notoriously doesn’t release data of this sort, which in the past has drawn criticism from creatives who argue that it makes it easier for the platform to negotiate financial packages that don’t reflect artists’ true value.
Harries suggested Netflix’s year-end finances could be a good public indicator of how audiences have responded to The Crown.
The Left Bank Pictures boss also briefly discussed the company’s next project Strange New Things, a sci-fi TV pilot that’s been filmed in South Africa for Amazon.
“We were asked by them how much we wanted to make the one hour pilot for,” he said. “$15m. Extraordinary. That’s twice the budget of The Crown [per episode]. They gave it to us.”