Disney+ moves into European original production with 10 new commissions

Drama, comedy, sci-fi and documentary projects greenlit

By Michael Rosser 17 Feb 2021

Disney+ moves into European original production with 10 new commissions

Disney+ has unveiled its first slate of 10 European originals, including drama, comedy, sci-fi and documentary projects from France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

It has greenlit projects from creators and producers including Juliette Howell, Stephen Butchard, Quoc Dang Tran and Jörg Winger, and includes the first titles for new entertainment brand Star, which will launch on the streaming platform on February 23.

The move follows the studio’s announcement in December that it would commission 50 productions in Europe by 2024. A UK title has yet to be revealed but Disney said it had “a raft of additional projects in development”.

France leads the pack with four commissions, including two Disney+ Originals and two Star Originals (Star skews at a more adult audience).

These include Parallels for Disney+, a fantasy series following four teenagers, whose lives are turned upside down when a mysterious event propels them into parallel dimensions. It is created by Quoc Dang Tran, whose French horror series Marianne streamed on Netflix, and is co-written by Anastasia Heinzl. Also for Disney+ is Weekend Family, a comedy that follows the life of a new stepfamily that meet up every weekend. Created by Baptiste Filleul, it is produced by by Groupe Elephant.

Four-part miniseries Oussekine is for Star and explores the true events of December 5, 1986, that led to the death of a young student, Malik Oussekine, and the impact that the case had on French society. Oussekine is created and directed by Antoine Chevrollier. Also for Star is Soprano: Sing or Die, a documentary series about one of France’s most popular recording artists as he and his crew get ready for a massive stadium tour in Summer 2022.

In Italy, three Star Originals have been greenlit for Disney+. They are led by crime series The Good Mothers, which will explore the mafia from the women’s perspectives. The series is executive produced by Tessa Ross, the former head of Film4, and Juliette Howell, the former head of television at Working Title, through their UK firm House Productions alongside Mario Gianani and Lorenzo Gangarossa for Rome-based Wildside. It is written by BAFTA Award-winning Stephen Butchard (Baghdad Central), based on the book of the same name by journalist Alex Perry.

Further Italy commissions include the return of comedy series Boris, produced by Fremantle-owned The Apartment, and romantic drama The Ignorant Angels from Turkish-Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek, inspired by box-office hit Le Fate Ignoranti, and produced by R&C Productions.

In Germany, two Star Originals are led by drama Sam – A Saxon, which tells the true story of Samuel Meffire, East-Germany’s first black police officer, produced by International Emmy Award-winner Jörg Winger (Deutschland 83) and Tyron Ricketts.

The other is dark comedy Sultan City, from producers Ayla Gottschlich and Aysel Yilmaz and writer Ipek Zübert, which follows the respectable matriarch of a German-Turkish family who accidentally becomes the head of a criminal underworld, and discovers she and her daughters have a talent for the business.

The sole Dutch commission is Feyenoord Rotterdam, a sports documentary produced by Lusus Media, in which the titular football club opens its doors to reveal what happens off the pitch.

European team

The slate has been overseen by Diego Londono, Disney’s executive vice president of media networks and content in EMEA, and Liam Keelan, vice president of original content in the region.

In addition, two new roles have been created in Spain and Germany. Sofía Fábregas has been appointed as vice president of original productions, Iberia, and Benjamina Mirnik-Voges has been named vice president original productions, Germany.

Both roles will be responsible for the development and production of the local Disney-branded and Star-branded Originals for Disney+, reporting into local leadership and Londono.

These new roles follow the previously confirmed announcement of Sean Doyle, who will serve as director of original production for unscripted general entertainment across Europe, reporting to Keelan.

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