Britannia: Sky and Amazon US to produce new drama
VOD News | On 04, Aug 2016
Sky and Amazon are teaming up to produce Britannia, a “major new original drama”.
The first co-production between the two companies, the 10-part historical series will air on Sky 1 in the UK and Ireland and be available on Amazon Prime Video in the US in 2017.
Written by Jerusalem creator Jez Butterworth, the show stars Kelly Reilly (True Detective), David Morrissey (The Walking Dead), Zoë Wanamaker and Stanley Weber (Outlander) and is set in 43AD, as the Roman Imperial Army – determined and terrified in equal measure – returns to crush the Celtic heart of Britannia, a mysterious land ruled by wild warrior women and powerful druids, who can channel the powerful forces of the underworld.
For Sky, Britannia joins 12 original drama series already on air or set to air over the next couple of years on Sky Atlantic and Sky 1, including The Young Pope, Hooten & The Lady, Guerrilla, Tin Star, Delicious, Riviera, Jamestown and The Last Dragonslayer, as well as returning series including Fortitude and Agatha Raisin.
In the US, Britannia adds to a growing roster of dramatic Amazon Original Series, including The Man in the High Castle, Bosch and Hand of God, as well as upcoming series Goliath, Good Girls Revolt, Sneaky Pete and Patriot.
Britannia was commissioned by Sky’s Head of Drama Anne Mensah, Commissioning Editor, Cameron Roach and Director of Sky 1, Adam MacDonald, alongside Roy Price, Vice President, Digital Video and Amazon Studios. Vertigo Films’ James Richardson will executive produce with Pippa Harris and Nicolas Brown from Neal Street Productions (Penny Dreadful) and Anne Thomopoulos (Rome, Band of Brothers). It will be produced by Star Wars’ Rick McCallum, while Jez and Tom Butterworth will lead as writers, alongside Richard McBrien (Spooks, Merlin).
“Besides being hard, hard warriors, the Celts have a belief system which makes them almost invincible. It’s a deep, heavy magic. Last time the Romans tried to invade, the mighty Julius Caesar took one look, turned round and went straight home,” says Butterworth. “Now, almost a century later, the Romans are back. I’m fascinated in what happens when gods die. When an entire, ancient faith stalls, topples, collapses – and a whole new one grows in its place. New names, new faces, to suit the new times. Here we have a war between two pantheons – the Roman gods v the Celtic gods. It’s the Heavyweight Clash of All Time, the one which most shapes who we are today. And we see it all from a human perspective, of individual survival, ambition, courage, lust, loss, revenge. All the stuff the gods have always loved us humans for the most!”
“I have been a fan of Jez’s writing for a long, long time, so to get the chance to work with him on this epic tale is very exciting,” comments Morrissey. “His dialogue and storytelling are second to none. I am also really looking forward to working with the brilliant cast that has been assembled for Britannia – I just hope I get a nice horse!”
WME and Sky Vision negotiated the deal with Amazon.
“We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Sky on our first series entirely produced overseas,” comments Price.
The agreement marks a growing trend for co-productions between streaming services and other broadcasters, as VOD giants seek exclusive and original-branded content without blowing their whole budget. Amazon Prime Video UK, for example, is enjoying being the British home to Mr. Robot, while Netflix UK has become synonymous with AMC’s Breaking Bad. US streaming services picking up UK work is increasingly common too, from Netflix snapping up Peaky Blinders as a US original and also signing a co-production deal with E4 for multiple series.
Britannia is now shooting on location in Prague and Wales.