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Boutique Filmes, The Mediapro Studio Team for ‘To Kill a Queen’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety — John Hopewell

MADRID — Gustavo Mello, Tiago Mello and Eduardo Piagge’s São Paulo-based Boutique Filmes, producers of early Netflix Original overseas breakout “3%,” is teaming with high-end drama powerhouse The Mediapro Studio (“The New Pope,” “The Head”) to produce “To Kill a Queen.”

International sales rights on the series will be handled by The Mediapro Studio Distribution.

From an original idea by Martin Halac, at Mediapro U.S.,”To Kill a Queen” was created by Valentina Castelo Branco (“Call Me Bruna,” “Jorel’s Brother”) and Aurélio Aragão (“A Divisão,” “Os Homens São de Marte…”). It is produced by Boutique partner-producer Gustavo Mello and Ran Tellem, The Mediapro Studio head of international content development.

The series sees Boutique mine what has proved a fruitful production line of politically resonant, futurist dystopian thrillers, such as “3%,” now with Season 4 in preparation, and another Netflix Original, “Omniscient,” which bows on Jan. 29.

“To Kill a Queen” is set in near-future moralistic Brazil in 2025.

Diana, a former legendary beauty pageant star, needs to leave her life as a free-wheeling spirit behind and become a redeemed lady, surrendering herself to the pink prison of Miss Brazil 2025 contest, just to stay alive.

Focused around the apparently idyllic setting of a beauty contest, with the producers promising a “futuristic retro look,” “To Kill a Queen exposes the “vilest and abusive backstage events of a universe full of mascara, bodices and embroidery,” the synopsis runs.

It goes on: “Realizing that the pageant hides a moralist plan to intended to make all women obedient, beautiful and modest housewives Diana, even when locked up in this world, determines to destroy such a plot – before she becomes the star of this bizarre “Feminine Revolution.”

“‘To Kill a Queen’ is a high-concept, action-driven story with thriller elements and a strong female charter, its unique context opening up an array of clearly creative opportunities,” Gustavo Mello said.

It is also obviously politically resonant, in development as hard-right now Brazilian President Jair Bolsonoro, famous before his presidential run for telling another member of Congress she was too ugly to be raped, swept to power in 2018 on the back of election pledges such as “Religion, family, a strong hand.” Last August, he dismissed “gender ideology” as “crap that is corrupt and communist.”

Late last week, Roberto Alvim, Brazil’s Culture Minister, was fired after echoing Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels in an online video to promote an national arts prize, to music from Wagner’s “Lohengrin,” said to be Hitler’s favorite opera.

“Something that’s brilliant about the show’s that it moves in time in both directions: Forward, into the future, but a future that’s really the past. So a little bit like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ or ‘The Man in the High Castle,” the future looks like a very dark version of our present,” said Tellem.

He added that “To Kill a Queen” uncovers “the real story behind what we think is reality. But a beauty pageant is not reality. It’s a show that somebody put for us: If we take a look from the other side, we might discover something very dark.”

Also, like ‘Killing Eve,’ the show turns on an an incredibly beautiful woman who is “very powerful, sometimes vicious, cruel,” he said.

The partners aim to initiate pre-production in early 2021, Mello said.

For Boutique, “To Kill a Queen” represents another step in its rapid growth as it seeks to explore “different business models,” said Mello, here international co-production, rather than work for hire with global platforms.

Launched in 2013, Boutique Filmes began producing for Brazil’s free-to-air and pay-TV channels, becoming a three-time Intl. Emmy Kids Award nominee, for Discovery Kids’ “O Zoo da Zu” (2015, 2017) and “SOS Fada Manu.”

Netflix’s second full foreign-language Original, “3%,” was seen by more people outside Brazil than in it, helping to persuade the U.S. streaming giant that its local shows from all over the world could break out to audiences beyond their home market, now one of the cornerstones of its production strategy.

Boutique’s Filmes also has four series in development with Wild Sheep Content, the new company set up last year by Erik Barmack, Netflix’s former global originals head.

Few high-end drama series companies have grown as fast as Mediapro, also a rights broker, service company and film producer, with 58 offices in four continents, 14 producing content.

It hit the international high-end production scene co-producing 2016’s “The New Pope” for HBO, Sky Italia and Canal Plus. Signing up figures in the new TV landscape – Israel’s Tellem (“Homeland”), Argentina’s Daniel Burman (“Victoria Small”, Spain’s Javier Olivares (“The Department of Time”) – it has gone on to produce with HBO, Netflix, Amazon Prime Studios, DirectTV, Fox, Viacom, Vice Studios and Disney, of U.S. companies. In March 2019, Mediapro moved waves announcing Madrid-based The Mediapro Studio with 34 scripted series in production.

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