‘The movie franchise has a real added value that brings visibility to the series’

Distributor StudioCanal
Producers Urban Myth Films; Millennium; G-Base
Length 8 x 52 minutes
Broadcasters Canal+ (France); Canal+ Poland; Canal+ Africa; M7 (Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia); ZDF (Germany)

After three series of globetrotting action in their War Of The Worlds update, Canal+ and writer Howard Overman were clearly itching for a fresh blast of high-octane thrills.

The British writer, best known for E4’s Misfits, had an idea. A fan of the … Has Fallen movies (Olympus, London and Angel) – in which Gerard Butler plays a secret service agent who saves various world leaders from terrorism-related attacks, with an explosion never far away – Overman wanted to bring the franchise to the small screen. This time, terrorists would be targeting the French minister of defence. The threat would come to the streets of Paris.

“We jumped on it because we all agreed it was an extremely exciting package – the movie franchise has a real added value that brings visibility to the series, plus this was coming from a great creative team at our British label Urban Myth Films,” says StudioCanal executive vice-president, global sales and distribution, Anne Cherel.

“Millennium, which produced the films, has given us a lot of liberty and been very trusting in how we’re delivering a fresh take on the genre.”

Paris-Has-Fallen 1 © Simon Ridgway 2023

Millennium had been looking to spin off the series in new directions, but Butler takes a back seat on Paris Has Fallen, executive producing through his company, G-Base.

In his place is a fresh duo of leads: French actor Tewfik Jallab, a regular in Canal+ police drama Spiral, plays protection officer Vincent Taleb, who is paired with MI6 operative Zara Taylor (British actor Ritu Arya, who has popped up in everything from The Umbrella Academy to Polite Society and Barbie).

Together, they discover that the terrorists’ plan extends beyond targeting just one politician – and there might be a rogue insider among them.

The series unfurls over eight parts, filmed in Paris and London. “Each episode is an action movie in itself, with huge stakes and action scenes elevated with Howard’s humour,” says Cherel.

As with the films, StudioCanal has one eye on developing the series into a returning franchise, by taking the template to other territories to remodel in their own mother tongue.

“France is our most iconic territory, and it was important to launch it with a city that is a character in itself, like Paris,” says Cherel. “This series tells one complete story, but it’s open for another season in Paris or other cities – Madrid, say, or Barcelona.”

As well as Canal+ international channels in Poland and Africa, Paris Has Fallen has been pre-sold to ZDF in Germany – a key target for action series. Cherel says a US network is in advanced discussions to air it too, and she also sees huge potential in Asian territories.

In a market where companies are doubling down on world building and recognised IP, a series translation for an established film brand is a logical step – particularly if it’s in the ever popular espionage and action genre.

With Butler signed up for three more movies, this one could run and run.