Sky have been co-producing a few shows with US networks just recently, most notably Strike Back with Cinemax and Treasure Island with Syfy, and now they've partnered with NBC to bring a fresh interpretation of Dracula to our screens. Carnival Films & Television (the company behind Downton Abbey) will produce the ten-part drama alongside Univeral Television, Flame Ventures, Playground and Sky Living, which will air on NBC and Sky Living.
In this "epic tale of love and revenge", Dracula (The Tudors' Jonathan Rhys Meyers) will arrive in Victorian London, posing as an American entrepreneur with ambitions to modernise society with science, before falling in love a woman who appears to be the reincarnation of his late wife. The pilot has been written by Cole Haddon.
Bela Bajaria, Universal's Television Executive VP, has commented that they "... are thrilled to produce this smart, sophisticated, and provocative re-imagining of Dracula, in partnership with [executive-producers] Colin [Callender], Tony [Krantz] and our International studio arm and Sky Living for NBC Network. It is a timeless tale with relevant, surprising twists and turns with the exquisite Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the marquee role", while NBC Universal's President of International TV Production has said "we are delighted that Jonathan Rhys Meyers has chosen this project to return to television and have built an amazing team of producers behind the camera to deliver this extraordinary show. Since 1897, the story of Dracula has captivated readers and viewers alike and this sexy, updated twist on the classic also promises not to disappoint."
Over in the UK, Sky's Anne Mensah has commented that they are "... pleased to be announcing our first-ever co-production with NBC Universal and we are delighted to be bringing an actor as exciting as Jonathan Rhys Meyers to Sky. Dracula combines the biggest and best talent both in front of and behind the camera and will keep our customers intrigued and enthralled. With its dark, twisted and intelligent script it absolutely sets the scale, tone and ambition for future dramas on Sky Living."
What do you make of this project? I think it's great that Sky are partnering with Americans for certain projects—ones that benefit from UK-style smaller runs and British talent, but have US muscle and money behind them. It's the best of both worlds, really. The concept behind this Dracula doesn't grab me as a worthwhile adaptation, with the only notable changes being to make Dracula an American (or pretending to be an American), and having an affinity for science. But we'll see. There will undoubtedly be nuances to the story, and perhaps future casting decisions will provoke some more interest. Will they be including Jonathan Harker and Van Helsing? Is Mina Harker going to be Dracula's love interest once again? Will Seward and Lucy feature in any way?
One to keep an eye on, most definitely, although the fact it's airing on Sky Living gives me some pause. That channel usually deals in rather schmaltzy or cheesy genre programming, so I'd be more excited if it was airing on Sky1 or Sky Atlantic. Will this be on primetime NBC in the autumn of 2013? Lots to consider...