Factual SVOD net, Arte create Living Universe

Subscription on-demand service CuriosityStream and European cultural broadcaster Arte have co-commissioned a science-themed doc series and accompanying feature film.

The Living Universe comes from Australian indie Essential Media and Entertainment and French producer-distributor Zed. This comprises a 4x60mins TV series and a 1x90mins feature documentary.

Set in the past, present and future, it will look into the interstellas search for new life forms in the distant reaches of the galaxy.

The project budget comes to US$5 million, and has leading scientist and filmmaker Dr. Richard Smith (Australia: The Time Traveler’s Guide) directing and presenting. A French-language version has Vincent Amouroux (Species of Mass Destruction) attached as co-director. It will be shot in 4K and feature CGI of alien ecosystems.

The agreement sees Zed take international sales rights, coproducing with Arte, which has rights in France and Germany, and CuriosityStream taking US and Caribbean rights.

Other partners include Screen Australia and Screen New South Wales, France’s CNC and the Creative programme of the European Union.

Essential chief exec Chris Hilton will executive produce along with head of unscripted Alan Erson and Zed’s Christine Le Goff.

Arte France’s head of specialist factual, Hélène Coldefy, said The Living Universe “fully meets” the channel’s requirements “in terms of captivating, high quality documentaries for the widest possible audience.

CuriosityStream executive VP, content production and acquisitions Steve Burns said: “CuriosityStream is for those who want to explore and better understand the universe around them. There’s no better or more quintessential film to further this mission than The Living Universe.”

The platform launched last year as one of the first examples of thematic SVOD services.