Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher.
The Miss Fisher franchise lives on with a Shanghai-based production company acquiring the Chinese format rights to Every Cloud Productions’ ABC series.
That’s in addition to the Miss Fisher theatrical film, for which the producers raised a record-breaking $733,210 on Kickstarter.
The deal with Shanghai 99 Visual Company entails an option to produce up to 52 one-hour episodes.
Based on the novels by Kerry Greenwood, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries ran for three seasons on the ABC and has been sold to more than 170 territories.
Executives from the Shanghai Media Group first approached the producers two years ago after ABC International reps talked to them about possible format deals for Australian shows.
After researching the drama starring Essie Davis and Nathan Page SMG execs indicated their interest and drew up an agreement but nothing happened.
Subsequently the SMG exec who initially approached the producers joined Shanghai 99 Visual Company and negotiations began via emails that were translated by Google. The producers sent over scripts which were translated into Mandarin.
Every Cloud Productions’ CEO and co-founder Fiona Eagger tells IF: “You need a lot of patience dealing with the Chinese. China has definitely been a significant strategic territory for us to break into over these past few years and Shanghai 99 is the ideal company for us to enter the market.”
Co-founder and creative director Deb Cox added: “We believe Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries tailored to a local market will again see strong resonance among Chinese audiences.”
Eagger and Cox will serve as creative consultants, initially involving a trip to Shanghai to participate in the writers’ room. The Chinese hope to go into production next year. “We would like to make more shows for the Asian markets,” Eagger added.
Rebecca Wu, Shanghai 99 Visual Company VP said. “We have full confidence that we will produce a successful drama and believe the independent, glamorous and unflappable leading lady detective Phryne Fisher will sweep the country.”
Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason hailed the format deal as testament to the business acumen of Every Cloud Productions and the talents of the Australian creatives.
As one of the investors in the Australian series Screen Australia has equity in the IP and will benefit financially from the remake.
Tony Tilse will direct Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears, an action adventure/murder mystery which will follow Davis’ Phryne Fisher as she embarks on a global adventure to find missing treasure, solve numerous murders and break aviation records.
The Kickstarter campaign attracted 7,763 donors as well as the interest of private investors in Australia and the US. Eagger said the total funds raised are more than $1 million.
The producers intend to shoot the $8 million feature scripted by Cox in Australia, London and either Morocco or Israel next May/June.
They will apply for funding in the next round of Screen Australia funding and will use the Producer Offset for the qualifying Australian spend.
An Australian distributor yet to be announced is aboard and a deal with an international sales agent is being finalised.
Eagger has been to London to start work with casting agents on a potential list of supporting cast.