HBO Europe preps Golden Life, more local drama

AranyéletHBO Europe will launch Golden Life, a family crime drama based on a DRG-distributed Finnish format, in early November, and plans to ramp up the number of originals coming out of its Hungarian base.

Speaking ahead of a screening of Golden Life (Aranyélet) in Budapest, HBO Hungary executive producer Gabor Krigler said that having looked to source drama ideas from international markets, its development slate now comprises original projects developed locally.

He added that from 2017, the Hungarian arm of HBO Europe aims to launch two original dramas per year.

“We have six [projects] in development and I would like a slate of six-to-ten at any one time,” Krigler said. “Right now it is one original a year and from 2017 the plan is to produce and release two, one in spring, one in autumn.”

HBO Hungary general manager Gergely Benda told TBI that it will put a number of episodes of Aranyélet on its TV Everywhere service HBO Go as the first installment goes out on the linear pay TV channel in  its 8pm slot, on November 8.

The exact number of episodes that will be available to stream is dependent upon production schedules, but HBO hopes to put up four as episode one rolls out, and the final four later.

Benda added that he was hopeful Aranyélet could emulate other HBO Europe drama originals and beat the HBO US staples such as Game of Thrones in the local ratings.

Aranyélet follows a family whose wealth is built on the father’s criminal activities. The family patriarch reconsiders his criminal life after the death of his father, but other family members are already becoming involved in the Hungarian criminal underworld by this point.

Shot in Budapest, the series is the latest original to come out of the HBO Europe stable, following the likes of Burning Bush, Wataha and the Czech and Polish versions of Mammon.

Krigler selected the Easy Living format for HBO Hungary after looking at numerous shows from the international market.

“I was watching formats from all across the world, looking for one to adapt in Hungary and I came across this Finnish show and I was immediately captivated by the themes it was tackling, and in a very entertaining way,” he said. “I thought this was something that was universal and could be very Hungarian as well.”

Krigler, who joined HBO in 2011, added that the premium pay TV broadcaster will move from a format to locally-developed drama model in Hungary.

“In the early days there were not experienced writers and director who were well versed in making TV drama, which is why we had to scout for ideas in existing formats,” he said. “Right now our development slate does not rely on formats anymore, but back then it was imperative to find formats so that we could start [drama production].”

HBO picked up the format from DRG, and the UK-based distributor will sell Aranyélet internationally.

In Finland, Easy Living went out on free-to-air TV via MTV3 and ran for three seasons and 28 episodes. It was produced by Moskito, which is ultimately part of the Modern Times Group, as is DRG.