James Durie, head of scripted at Cineflix Rights, talks to TV Drama about the crime thriller Rebecca, based on the international hit series Marcella.
The fast-paced crime thriller Rebecca is among the top titles Cineflix Rights is touting as it gears up for MIPCOM. The drama is based on the international hit series Marcella. “We look at a lot of our scripted content for format potential, and Buccaneer Media, the producers behind Marcella, had the same international vision for the show,” says James Durie, head of scripted at Cineflix Rights. “Marcella stands out as a scripted series that has, at its center, a police officer investigating a crime that she might be involved with but isn’t quite sure how or why—putting her in the same position as the viewers. It’s a female-led crime drama, filled with red herrings, twists and turns and a heart-wrenching journey of loss and redemption—all of which give it a very strong appeal to international audiences, but also allow producers to adapt the multiple layers of the story and characters to create their own versions of the format.”
For the French remake for TF1, the story was relocated to the streets of Paris. Elephant adapted the series to reinforce Rebecca’s role as a mother struggling with her kids, her job and her demons. Elephant also developed the relationship between Rebecca and Laura, her superior officer who secretly admires her, and Marco, the young cop working with her, to play a different role in the French remake (as viewers will discover at the end of the season). Elephant has woven Marcella’s personal journey across the first two seasons into the first season of Rebecca, which ends with the iconic scene from the close of season two of Marcella, Durie notes.
“Marcella is a proven success, with three seasons gripping audiences around the world, and we believe Rebecca has the opportunity to replicate this,” he adds. “Elephant has created a fast-paced and hard-hitting story alongside chronicling Rebecca’s personal journey as a woman and a mother in her professional and family life, which results in a really high-impact show that will resonate with audiences internationally. The quality of the series has been recognized with an Official Selection, French Competition, at Series Mania.”
The beauty of the show, according to Durie, is that the audience goes on the journey along with the protagonist, unsure about her state of mind or her judgment or understanding what it is exactly that she’s done or what she’s capable of doing, “which makes for great suspense. There’s also a murder investigation at the center of all of this, and as that unravels, so does Rebecca. It’s a thrilling and emotional ride all the way through the season, culminating in a gripping conclusion, which delivers a sense of justice and redemption, and so the payoff for the viewer is very clear.”
Crime thrillers, like Rebecca, have performed well in the marketplace for Cineflix Rights. “The combination of a story that is far from most people’s everyday experience, with an intriguing plotline, twists and turns and a mystery that a viewer can quickly invest in, allows audiences to escape to a place they would never normally go,” Durie says. “There’s a universality to that, which audiences from all parts of the world can hook into. Added to this, what makes great drama are the characters, and within the crime genre that these characters inhabit, there is fertile ground to create brilliant, complex, diverse characters, both as the protagonists and antagonists/villains of the story. Audiences can find ways to connect with these characters or be intrigued by them and want to see where their stories lead.”
The finale of season one of Rebecca is nicely set up for a return with a second. Cineflix Rights is currently in discussion with other international buyers about Marcella as a format.
“Rebecca is the perfect example of the high-quality, distinctive dramas which are at the heart of our strategy of building a catalog of commercially and creatively exciting scripted content,” says Durie. “Our drama slate spans both English-language and international series alongside movies which we feel stand out in the market and offer something different to buyers. We have a loose focus on crime, including the multi-season North American procedural Coroner and the quintessentially British ‘cozy crime’ series Whitstable Pearl, alongside the riveting adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s best-selling novel Crime, returning seasons of the Israeli police corruption drama Mayayek, Russian thriller An Ordinary Woman and the darkly humorous award-winning Quebecois series Happily Married. Espionage is another focus, with the huge global hit Tehran and Mirage, and we also have multiple seasons of the supernatural hit Wynonna Earp playing to superfans around the world.”