Newen Connect, the distribution arm of TF1 Group-owned Newen Studios, is partnering with Andy Serkis’ Imaginarium Productions to co-develop and distribute Madame!, an epic period series on the life of Marie Tussaud, the French artist and entrepreneur who founded world-famous wax museum Madame Tussauds.
Serkis, famous for his roles as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films and Caeser in the Planet of the Apes franchise, created the series and will act as showrunner and director. Imaginarium, the production outfit Serkis runs with Jonathan Cavendish, will produce Madame! along with Felicita Films’ Marie Guillaumond.
Newen Connect will help finance the development of the series as well as selling the show internationally.
Madame! is pitched as the untold story of Tussaud, a French artist known for her wax sculptures who honed her craft during the age of enlightenment and the French Revolution and escaped to England during the French Reign of Terror, founding her now-legendary wax museum in London in 1835.
The series will trace her rise from 18th century Paris and portray Tussauds as an “extraordinarily pioneering businesswoman built her business from scratch” along the way sacrificing “relationships with nearly everyone close to her (including her own children), exchanging love for her legacy.”
“This is no straight-up period drama, it is a hilariously crazy, no holds barred, anarchic, punk caper conjured from the curiously twisted mind of a fabulously post-truth executioner’s daughter!” Serkis said in a statement. “Marie knows one thing very clearly – if you’re going to tell your own life story, make it entertaining, even if you have to make it up, and whatever happens, cut out the boring bits…”
Newen Connect CEO Rodolphe Buet said the series would depict a “visionary heroine who shook up conventions in the 18th century and whose journey as a strong independent woman managing to build an empire resonates particularly nowadays.” He noted the deal with Imaginarium anchors Newen’s strategy of “support producers in the development and research of financing for ambitious co-production projects.”
The Madame! agreement follows on such investments as Newen’s backing of Ringside Media, which recently took a minority stake in UK indie production company Joi Productions, from producer Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor (Blue Story), which focuses on Black, queer and female-led stories. Other Ringside investments include Fictionhouse, Slate Entertainment and Further South Productions in 2021, followed recently by B Side Film and TV.
Imaginarium TV slate includes Fungus the Bogeyman for Sky, Death and Nightingales for the BBC and the upcoming The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself for Netflix.