The Bridge producer Lars Blomgren is looking to crack remakes of the hit Scandi crime drama in China and India as he moves into a new role at Endemol Shine Group designed to bolster its foreign-language drama slate.
In a wide-ranging interview with Deadline, Blomgren, who previously headed ESG-owned Swedish producer Filmlance, lifted the lid of the superindie’s plans to expand on its current 40 non-English scripted series, explained how the success of Netflix’s Dark has lead to new challenges and discussed his willingness to bring UK and U.S. producers such as Kudos and Fifty Fathoms together with producers around the world to create new hits.
Blomgren becomes Head of Scripted, Europe, Middle East and Africa from September 1. While he admitted that the door was starting to close on Bron (The Bridge), which has had five international remakes, he said that the group was still chasing local adaptations in a couple of markets.
The show, which originally featured Sofia Helin as Swedish detective Saga Norén investigating cases that poured over into Denmark, has been remade in the U.S. at FX, in the UK/France with Sky Atlantic and Canal+ and most recently with in Singapore/Malaysia via PCCW-owned OTT service Viu. “The Killing and Bron opened the door for subtitled drama and non-English shows. We’ve done five versions [of Bron]. The challenge right now is that you don’t want the different versions to compete with each other. Can we do another one in Asia now that we’ve done Singapore, Malaysia? I would love to crack China, and another one is India. I would to have an Indian Bridge,” he said.
Blomgren has previously stated his wish to create a version that straddled North and South Korea and admitted that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine scuppered plans to create a version in those two countries.
Adaptations are one part of Blomgren’s non-English language strategy. However, the group is also aggressively developing scripted originals across most of its territories. Dark (left), produced by
Wiedemann & Berg Television, has been heralded by Netflix as one of the global SVOD service’s most popular shows, and not just in its home territory of Germany. But Blomgren admitted that this posed a further challenge. Previously, shows like time-travel drama Dark, which follows the disappearance of a group of children, would have been produced locally and then taken out internationally. “Dark is a brilliant idea and would work everywhere but the new consideration is if you have a brilliant idea, where do you do it. It’s a completely new situation for us, not only to be local but to have international potential. We need to talk a lot about planning.”
He says that the SVOD services including Amazon and Apple, will help drive the foreign language drama business. It will, in his estimation, make linear broadcasters step up as well to ensure that they don’t lose out on the most exciting projects. “The traditional broadcasters were shocked they didn’t get the projects they used to but now everyone is shaping up and competition is harder but it is a good time,” he adds.
Some of the most exciting titles on ESG’s slate include TNT Serie’s mob drama 4 Blocks, Antena 3’s slaughterhouse drug drama Matadero, Reshet’s Israeli cult thriller Harem and TV2 Norway’s political comedy The Councilman. “I am really impressed when I look at the development slate in France, TF1 has their version of The Fall [Insoupçonnable] and even if it’s a mature, it’s never been a big market [for global drama]. In Norway, we’re doing [supernatural comedy] Beforeigners for HBO from the Lilyhammer creators [Anne Bjørnstad and Eilif Skodvin]. That’s something that will travel for sure.”
Most of ESG’s markets produce scripted shows, but he says that while in some markets, such as Scandinavia, the challenge will be to remain the market leader, and in others it will look at acquisitions to help bolster this drama push.
It will also pair the group’s English-language producers, which includes the likes of Broadchurch producer Kudos, Black Mirror maker House of Tomorrow and Fortitude indie Fifty Fathoms, with producers in other markets. “We will absolutely work with the English-language producers; English language drama is the most competitive market and the producers are looking at the non-English side for projects that can be cross border that can travel. There’s a number of projects in collaboration. They want to be involved.”
Blomgren will remain in Stockholm but will work closely with a team in London. “There’s a big group and we have more than 40 non-English language shows in production. It’s not a big ship, it’s a flotilla of fast moving boats. We want to be able to support the companies. It’s a new situation and a fantastic challenge.”