FremantleMedia Takes 25% Stake in Newly Created TV Drama Outfit Corona TV

By Leo Barraclough February 11, 2015 | 04:30PM PT

LONDON – Global production and distribution giant FremantleMedia has taken a 25% stake in Corona TV, the newly created TV production company from filmmaking duo Richard Johns and Rupert Jermyn.

The deal, which gives FremantleMedia a first-look option on all Corona TV output, pushes forward FremantleMedia’s ambition to build its scripted pipeline with projects that will have “an epic and cinematic feel,” and attract international co-production funding.

FremantleMedia previously worked with Johns and Jermyn on the development of “Birds of Prey,” a TV adaptation of the first three novels of Wilbur Smith’s Courtney series, penned by “Layer Cake” scriptwriter J.J. Connolly.

Corona TV is a sister company of Corona Pictures, which was founded by Johns and Jermyn in London in 2009. The company develops, produces and markets feature films and television programs to every country in the world, including the major established markets, and key emerging markets such as China.

In recent years, Corona Pictures produced and released the darkly comic hitman road movie “The Liability,” starring Tim Roth, Jack O’Connell, Talulah Riley, Kierston Wareing and Peter Mullan; John Wrathall penned the film directed by Craig Viveiros. Prior to that, the company made Robert Heath’s psychological thriller “Truth or Dare.” Both films are in release in over 24 international territories.

The FremantleMedia deal was brokered by FM’s director of global drama, Sarah Doole, who will take a seat on the board of the new company.

Doole said: “Richard and Rupert have over 25 years’ experience in producing successful feature films. Because of this, they look at scripted projects in a completely different way from most production companies, bringing a bigscreen presence to the smallscreen.”

She added: “We’ve looked at their production slate, and they have some exciting ideas that are ripe for international co-production funding. Having them as part of the FremantleMedia family gives us some brilliant projects for our scripted pipeline, while our existing infrastructure will help bring their epic ideas to fruition.”

Johns explained to Variety why they were interested in the TV space. “As storyteller, we are drawn by the creative magnet that is some of the best television drama of the moment,” he said.

“Over recent years, television creatively has undergone a revolution that I think from both a business and creative standpoint is one of the most exciting places to be as a drama storyteller,” he said.

“We will continue to make feature films, but I started out in television myself some 20 years ago, and for both Rupert and I, it is just a very exciting place to be from a creative and business point of view.”

Jermyn added: “There are so many more buyers, so many more avenues to get things made; you can make bigger, bolder, more exciting decisions both creatively and corporately.”

Johns underscored the point that they would apply the same standards to TV drama as they do to feature films. “Our T-shirt reads, ‘Every episode a movie.’ We came to TV as feature filmmakers and are going to distinguish ourselves with exactly that approach, which is that our TV is going to be cinematic, and that doesn’t just mean it is going to look great, but also the storytelling – the larger nature of the themes,” he said. “Also, we are going to make shows that will travel outside of one territory. As filmmakers we have always made films for the world, and we are absolutely going to do that for TV. The quality for us is absolutely as high as it would be in films.”

Jermyn added: “As independent filmmakers for many years our bread and butter has been putting together international finance plans, which is exactly how international television drama is made.”