Banijay Moves Into U.S. Drama With Bunim/Murray & Yellow Bird JV; Sets Up Three Projects

European superindie Banijay Group is making its first original move into scripted drama in the U.S. with a joint venture between two of its biggest production companies.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians indie Bunim/Murray Productions has teamed with Wallander producer Yellow Bird Sweden to launch Yellow Bird U.S. with Headhunters producer Marianne Gray heading up the firm. It follows the launch of scripted label Yellow Bird UK earlier this year.

Based in Bunim/Murray’s LA offices, Gray will work closely with its Chairman and CEO, Gil Goldschein to build the new entity. It has already hired former TNT executive Jonathan Marcus as Director of Development and has set up its first few development projects.

Yellow Bird U.S. has optioned three books: Åsa Schwartz’s The 7 Keys, Lisa Jewell’s I Found You and Mats Strandberg’s The End. It will develop and produce these in English for U.S. broadcasters and streaming platforms.

The 7 Keys follows Rebecka, one of seven IT professionals in the world who has the key to the internet when she wakes up with a gun to her head, I Found You follows two women, a man and twenty years of secrets, and The End, which the company optioned as it launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair, is a pre-apocalyptic YA novel.

Gray will also look to exploit Banijay Group’s existing scripted formats in the U.S.

She told Deadline, “We’ve been looking to grow the Yellow Bird brand for a long time and found that joining forces within the Banijay Group made the most sense. Following the launch of Yellow Bird UK last year, the U.S. was the natural next step. While Scandinavia is a small territory to produce in, we seem to generate internationally appealing IP and I find that many of the great American creators are looking for diverse material with varying viewpoints.”

She added that by working with Bunim/Murray, it will be able to “maximize cross-genre opportunities. “Let’s face it, material comes from all kinds of sources these days,” she said.

Banijay Group CEO Marco Bassetti added, “Yellow Bird U.S. is the result of two of the Group’s leading brands coming together in one of the world’s biggest markets. The original Swedish label has long built a strong reputation for high-quality, award-winning drama, and we look forward to seeing this success replicated via the partnership with fellow market-leader, BMP.”

Bunim/Murray’s Goldschein said, “Jacob Houlind and I have wanted to collaborate for some time following a long-standing working relationship within the wider Group. In light of BMP’s own scripted aspirations, the current appetite for global, quality dramas, and Yellowbird’s stellar reputation, we both felt that a partnership in the U.S. would be key to taking the brand to the next level worldwide.”

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