Amazon US snaps up FremantleMedia’s ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’

FremantleMedia Australia’s re-imagining of Picnic at Hanging Rock has been sold to Amazon Prime Video US.

The US streaming giant acquired the 6×60′ Foxtel series following a deal with FremantleMedia International.

Foxtel’s executive director of television Brian Walsh said the sale “marks the largest US commercial deal ever for an Australian television series.”

“Negotiations between Foxtel, the distributor, Fremantle, and four major American based networks/streaming services, have been in train for many weeks,” said Walsh.

“The partnership with Amazon marks the most lucrative programme sale ever struck for a locally produced television series and Foxtel is delighted with the outcome. The placement ensures that US audiences will see the outstanding craftsmanship of the Australian film and television industry on display, including the performances of an illustrious group of acting newcomers, who will now have their careers launched on the world stage.

“This is a landmark moment for our industry and for Australian storytelling. We are absolutely thrilled for everyone involved,” he said.

Picnic at Hanging Rock, shot in Victoria, has been produced by Brett Popplewell, and directed by Larysa Kondracki, Michael Rymer and Amanda Brotchie. Script producer and establishing writer is Beatrix Christian and writer Alice Addison.

According to Deadline, the Amazon sale was in part secured thanks to a sizzle reel from Kondracki.

FremantleMedia drew ire from the local industry last year when Kondracki, a Canadian director, was originally brought on to split directing with Rymer. The Australian Directors Guild argued that no Australian female director had been approached for the role and that Kondracki’s hire did not meet the Net Employment Test. The production company subsequently added Brotchie to the project. 

Picnic at Hanging Rock, based on Joan Lindsay’s novel, stars Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer as English headmistress Mrs. Hester Appleyard, as well as Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black, Deep Water), Lola Bessis (Cassandra, Swim Little Fish Swim), Anna McGahan (The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Anzac Girls) and Sibylla Budd (Tomorrow When The War Began, Winners & Losers).

The schoolgirls are played by Lily Sullivan (Camp, Jungle), Madeleine Madden (Tomorrow When The War Began, High Life), Samara Weaving (Monster Trucks, The Babysitter), Ruby Rees (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) and Inez Curro.

Commenting on the Amazon deal, FremantleMedia International’s SVP sales and distribution Caroline Kusser said: “The stylish re-imagining of the provocative Picnic at Hanging Rock story will no doubt capture contemporary audiences across the US. With fantastic scripts, outstanding cast and bold editorial direction from Larysa Kondracki, Picnic at Hanging Rock is set to be a must-see series in 2018. We are thrilled to be working with Amazon Prime Video to bring this powerful drama to US screens.”

Picnic At Hanging Rock is Foxtel’s third drama series to be sold into the US of late. All five seasons of prison drama Wentworth are on North American Netflix, The Kettering Incident is available on Amazon Prime US and A Place To Call Home screens on Acorn and American Public Television.

Foxtel has also said a “major sale” of Secret City is expected to be concluded soon.

Picnic at Hanging Rock will have its world premiere on Foxtel in Australia in 2018, with the US debut on Amazon to follow.