Cloud Atlas and Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer is branching out into for a 12-episode project that will be filmed in German but is hoping for international distribution, a la Crossing Lines. The developing project is called Babylon Berlin, and it’s based on a set of novels written by Volker Kutscher that follow a police detective named Gereon Rath operating in Berlin in the 1920s.
According to THR, the four novels already published in the series should provide enough fodder for the planned 12 episodes. The books so far have covered the time period between 1929 and 1932, which is just before Adolf Hitler came to power and set in motion the events leading to WWII. In the project, police detective Rath will be sent to Berlin to solve crimes in the city.
The project is being put together by Tykwer and Stefan Arndt, but directors Achim von Borries and Hendrik Handloegten will also be behind the 12-part series, and will work to adapt the books for television. The project isn’t set up on a network, yet, but the drama is expected to target the International market, which means if it moves forward, U.S. audiences might even get a chance to see it at some point.
Normally, a German TV project isn’t something we would cover over at TV Blend, but the fact that this one has Tykwer attached is really exciting. The man’s currently signed on to put together a film version of Dave Eggers’ A Hologram for the King, and his other work, like Run Lola Run and Cloud Atlas has been highly compelling and extremely stylized and his development of a TV series could also be something special.
If nothing else, this project is a great reminder of how many different ways there are to create content right now. You can go the network TV route. You can go the cable route. You can go the premium cable or Netflix routes, and yes, television in numerous other countries has progressed to the point that it could attract very high end talent looking to put together an international distribution deal.
Whether this makes it on television in the United States or not, there’s no reason to think it shouldn’t be a great television program. It’s got a great premise, great talent and hopefully, will start shooting with more than enough financing and distribution in place. Besides, since the novels only work their way through 1932, audiences would be getting a unique viewpoint into a time period that doesn’t often get a lot of recognition via television or film (unlike WWII, which is explored nearly constantly). Hitler slowly gained more and more power in the ensuing years, but the war didn’t actually come to Berlin until much later. Consequently, the lush and beautiful city could more than support a procedural about solving crimes, whether Nazi related or not.
We’ll keep you updated on the project in the coming months.