‘We Don’t Do Volume’: Sky Studios Confirms Commitment to Premium Content

Sky Studios has confirmed its commitment to premium content at MIA Market in Rome.

“When we say premium, we talk about mature, provocative, sophisticated storytelling,” said Meghan Lyvers, director of original drama at Sky Studios U.K. Noting the company’s interest in prestige, high-end limited series (“‘Chernobyl’ was an incredible example of that”), “blockbuster” event series, but also ones that can potentially return.

An adaptation of Heather Morris’ novel “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” is in the works, which will see Sky partnering up with Peacock. TNT has acquired “The Lazarus Project,” while crime series “A Town Called Malice,” created by Nick Love and launching next spring, will be a “love letter” to the 1980s.

“We will continue to push forward these ambitious stories,” assured Lyvers.

In Italy, viewers can expect the second season of “Romulus,” shot in proto-Latin, while “Django” with Matthias Schoenaerts as a Wild West gunslinger will premiere internationally on Sunday. Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo are shooting “Dostoevskij.”

“Since ‘Romanzo Criminale’ and then ‘Gomorrah,’ it has been crucial to make [content] that would feel relevant, different and authentic to our audience,” added Sonia Rovai, senior director of scripted production at Sky Studios Italia, calling “Gomorrah” a show that went from being local to “glocal.”

But while Sky prefers original stories to remakes, she noted, an Italian take on “Call My Agent!” is on the way, produced by Palomar and featuring Pierfrancesco Favino, recently celebrated for his turn in Cannes premiere “Nostalgia.”

“It’s a classic exception to the rule,” she said.

“I saw the first episode and it’s amazing. We worked closely with the talent and decided to change some storylines and respect our star system. We need to empathize with the agents. They are the real protagonists.”

Finally, as mentioned by newly minted vice president of Sky Studios Deutschland Tobias Rosen, Germany will introduce “Huntsville AL,” “based on true events, never told,” and “Souls.”

As Variety wrote in April, the latter “combines reincarnation and ‘Groundhog Day,’ and that’s just the beginning.”

“It’s a really, really interesting show, very complicated in terms of storytelling. It’s mind-bending and it appeals more to a younger audience. I am very curious to see how it will be received in the German market,” said Rosen, also recalling his introduction to Sky.

“I remember when I saw ‘Babylon Berlin.’ I thought: ‘Wow.’ I didn’t know something like that was possible in German television. The challenge is to continue working this way.”

According to Lyvers, being flexible when it comes to preferred business models is crucial.

“It’s a continued interest for us to hear a great story and if it doesn’t have producers attached to it, that’s okay. We can incubate and support that creator,” she said, mentioning Sky’s distribution partners at NBCUniversal.

The team opened up about other partnerships too, from Peacock in the U.S. to AMC on “Gangs of London” and HBO.

“In terms of bigger business that’s well above our pay grade,” said Lyvers, admitting the conversation is happening and calling the relationship with HBO “synergistic, fluid and organic.”

“We have a lot of common ground and we will continue to talk to them. We are always looking for strong advocates of premium international storytelling in the U.S.”

Streaming service SkyShowtime was also discussed. In September, it launched in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. More markets will be added “shortly.”

“It’s not automatic that every show goes into that joint venture. But it’s a nice opportunity for Sky shows to have increased scale and reach, as they are launching in markets that we are not,” observed Lyvers.

Adding that while many competitors tend to make “safer choices” when it comes to programming these days, Sky’s priority is to “stay in the premium lane.”

“We don’t do volume. We will always focus on a more curated approach in terms of slate and the story.”

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