Gerard Butler’s ‘Has Fallen’ Film Franchise Gets an Event TV Series Makeover in Studiocanal’s ‘Paris Has Fallen’

February 26, 2024 | Misc/General Career News

Is this now an age of TV caution? A brace of big swings at this week’s London TV Screenings belie that trend, and few come bigger than the English-language action thriller “Paris Has Fallen,” which Studiocanal launches at this week’s London TV Screenings.

Like other major LTVS plays, it takes a mainstream genre – such as, elsewhere, the historical drama (“Wolf Hall: The Mirror and the Light”), true crime (“A Cruel Love: The Ruth Ellis Story”) and the bio (“So Long, Marianne”) – and aims to elevate them to another level.

This is Studiocanal’s biggest TV production of 2024. “‘Paris Has Fallen’ has ambition, scale and production values that I haven’t see in so many series,” says Anne Chérel, EVP global sales and distribution at Studiocanal.

Such scale comes with its backers. Produced by London-based Studiocanal production company Urban Myth Films (“War of the Worlds”), Studiocanal and Millennium and Butler’s G-Base, both behind the movie franchise, the series anchor broadcasters take in French pay TV giant Canal+ Group and another of Europe’s biggest TV players, German public broadcaster ZDF, which co-produces.

Canal+ Africa, Canal+ Poland and Canal+-owned M7 will air the actioner, M7 in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. Elsewhere, Studiocanal handles world sales.

Like many other major LTVS titles, “Paris Has Fallen,” a Canal+ Creation originale, rolls off muscular IP, channelling the high-octane action thriller propulsion of the “Has Fallen” film series, whose star Gerard Butler serves as executive producer. The three movies to date – Antoine Fuqua’s “Olympus Has Fallen” (2013), Babak Najafi’s “London Has Fallen” (2016) and Ric Roman Waugh’s “Angel Has Fallen” (2019) – have grossed a combined $522 million in box office, a standout result for an independent film.

So “Paris Has Fallen” weighs in as a high-profile case of the continuing diaspora from film – here a blockbuster movie franchise – to TV.

“Action movies are top sellers both in cinema theaters and on TV and platforms,” says Chérel at Studiocanal whose Liam Neeson movies have proved market after market to be among their hottest packages.

“But people are watching more and more TV so the number of action series is increasing and they can perform very well, but you have to deliver in a saturated market to stand out,” she adds.

‘Paris Has Fallen’ Main Challenge

Brought onto the market at this week’s London TV Screenings, “Paris Has Fallen’s” challenge is to transfer the intensity of an action thriller to an eight hour series.

“We know that people – or at least not all of them – are going to are going to watch eight hours in a row. So the idea is to have eight episodes that can be perceived as eight action movies. Each episode will feel like a mini film delivering epic action sequences. It’s honestly a huge challenge. But Urban Myth Films has delivered a series which maintains the energy and intensity of an action thriller across eight episodes. It’s really exciting,” Chérel comments.

“Paris Has Fallen” was shot in Paris and London. “Maintaining the energy and intensity of an action thriller is a unique and a great challenge to have as programme makers,” agrees Urban Myth’s Johnny Caps tells Variety. “We were determined to make each episode feel like a mini movie promising epic action sequences and their own unique tone and setting,”

The series writer is Howard Overman who has built a career by teasing out characters’ humanity and singular traits, whether a group of Asbo teens who could be written off as juvenile delinquents in his 2010 BAFTA best series winner “Misfits” or the survivors of an alien attack in “War of the Worlds,” which has run to three seasons.

“The eight hours not only allow you to be really ambitious with your story telling and action sequences but also to explore the characters in more depth,” says Capps.

“Howard was keen to reveal character through action, how they would deal with extreme and challenging situations. The eight episodes allowed him to do this and create intense and revealing character revelations within the fast-paced thriller plot.”

“‘Paris has Fallen’ is not just an action series but highly developed in terms of plot and characters arcs,” says Chérel. “The idea is to develop a series which can appeal to broader audiences than core action fans,” she observes.

“A major, major added value for the series is that it plays off the film franchise,” Chérel adds. “People know and can recognize the film trilogy pretty much anywhere and here we have the opportunity to expand the series beyond Paris in the future.”

What Happens

The series, at least if a synopsis is anything to go by, hits beats from the original. In “Paris Has Fallen,” Tewfik Jallab (“Spiral,” “Dark Hearts”) plays Vincent Taleb, a member of a security deal guarding a high-ranking politician, like Butler’s Banning in the film series. Here, the target is France’s Minister of Defence, attacked by a terror force at a high-profile event.

To safeguard him from a terror group led by the heinous Jacob Pearce, Taleb teams with street-smart MI6 operative Zara Taylor. But they discover there’s more to the attack than a single victim and, echoing the turncoats of the movies, one of their colleagues is feeding information to Pearce.

Another “key selling point,” says Chérel, is Paris itself. “Given much of the series takes place in a world of high political circles, much is set in “the glamorous Paris we love in France and internationally, that of the Haussmann boulevards, but the series shows the city in all its diversity.”

Production levels were also aided by having two directors – lead director Oded Ruskin, who did a great job in the Hulu aired “No Man’s Land,” and Hans Herbot (“The Serpent”).

“The advantage of this was that we could schedule two units simultaneously and give ourselves more shooting time,” says Capps. “This is essential for a show such as this because creating great ambitious action sequences is all about coverage. And we were absolutely determined to deliver thrilling sequences in every episode.”

“Maintaining the look and style was very easy. Oded, our lead director, created a superbly original and distinctive style which was then easy for us to follow,” he adds.

Canal+’s Bigger Picture

Only 39% of Canal+ Group’s 25 million subscribers worldwide on June 30, 2023 were based in France. CPG’s revenue base – up €86 million ($93.7 million) first half 2023, boosting Vivendi’s overall results – is ever more international as it launches new operations, such as in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in April 2023 and as its takes or raises equity participations in overseas operators, such as Scandinavia’s Viaplay and Asia’s Viu.

“Canal+ is not only in France, but in Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, so it’s really important for us as well, to make sure that the channels have really strong event content produced by us and with a series like this, it should feel like an event. ‘Paris Has Fallen’ ticks that box,” Chérel says.

At one and the same time, on the film side, Studiocanal has mixed action titles, such as Liam Neeson starrer “Non-Stop,” which grossed $223 million, and prestige festival driven titles. “I am so delighted that we are now replicating that on the TV series side. We have the ability to produce series for all audiences, all tastes and all broadcasters/platforms,” Chérel says.

So at the London TV Screenings, Studiocanal will sneak peek not only “Paris Has Fallen” but also an extended promo of “Families Like Ours,” the first TV series from Danish auteur Thomas Vinterberg, just as Studiocanal produced the debut show from another film auteur, Canada’s Xavier Dolan.

Once more, however, on “Families Like Ours” Studiocanal and Canal Plus can help its financial muscle make a difference. “Families Like Ours” turns on Laura, a high-school student in love, who is is on the cusp of graduation. It is set, however, against the background of rising water levels, threatening the entire population. This is a coming of age tale, but also, as Studiocanal anticipates, an “epic family drama.”

The London TV Screenings run Monday, Feb. 26 through Friday March 1.


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