After acquiring an equity stake in Australian producer Matchbox Pictures in 2011, NBCUniversal International Television Production has now taken full ownership of the company via an undisclosed investment. This adds to NBCU’s stable of overseas …
UPDATED: NBC has given a 10-episode order to Emerald City, an Oz-themed drama from Siberia creator/showrunner Matthew Arnold. The order comes after Josh Friedman, who supervised the writing, recently took a pass at the script. The two executive produce through Universal Television where Friedman is under a deal. A writers room is slated to get up and running soon but casting may be postponed until after pilot season. Emerald City is described as a modern and dark reimagining of the classic tale of Oz in the vein of Game Of Thrones, drawing upon stories from Baum’s original 14 books that include lethal warriors, competing kingdoms, and the infamous wizard as we’ve never seen him before. A head-strong 20-year-old Dorothy Gale is unwittingly sent on an eye-opening journey that thrusts her into the center of an epic and bloody battle for the control of Oz. Following the success of the 1900 The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, Baum wrote 13 sequel novels. Emerald City is the one of several Wizard Of Oz in development at various networks and the first to get a green light.
NBC also has greenlighted The Slap, an eight-episode miniseries based on the 2011 Australian short-run series.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
A significant group of Australian TV dramas and comedies, plus the film Animal Kingdom, have been the subject of U.S. remake deals in the past year. There are more in the offing and the growing trend has Oz producers considering strategies for the future of format sales. “Format deals deliver longer term, and less certain returns,” notes Nicky Davies Williams, CEO of DCD Rights, which handled global sales of The Slap, an Oz drama that NBC is prepping for an eight-episode limited series. Producers usually can’t sell remake rights up front because they need the higher license fees from local and international broadcasters to finance their productions. “You hope that everything you do is remakeable, but ultimately what you’re aiming for is that the original version gets screened in other territories,” says Matchbox Pictures’ Tony Ayres who’ll be an exec producer on the remade Slap. The original was an award-winning success at home in 2011 and also went out in such territories as the U.S., the UK and Israel.