Written by on Oct 9, 2013. Posted in On Location

The Weinstein Company and BBC agree production deal on War and Peace

A production deal has been agreed between the BBC and The Weinstein Company on a new TV production of the epic Tolstoy novel War and Peace. First published in 1869, the book is set in early 19th Century Russia but is likely to be filmed on location in the UK.

War and Peace follows five aristocratic Russian families against a background of war and social turbulence that leads up to and encompasses Napoleon’s ill-fated invasion of Russia in 1812. The BBC first announced the six-hour miniseries earlier this year, but the Weinstein deal marks the latest development.

Described as “one of the most ambitious event dramas ever produced for the BBC”, the series will be made by BBC Cymru Wales and Lookout Point. Lookout’s recent work includes high-end TV productions Ripper Street, Parade’s End and the Julian Fellowes-scripted miniseries Titanic.

“With BBC and Harvey [Weinstein] on board we are making a serious statement of intent and expect to attract the talent and in turn the audiences that truly befit Tolstoy's work,” said Simon Vaughan of Lookout Point: “Making War and Peace is no small undertaking and this partnership has the experience needed to tackle a work of this significance.”

War and Peace is major event drama for the BBC, written by Andrew Davies and made by BBC Productions,” added Danny Cohen, Director of Television for the BBC: “It’s fantastic to be partnering with The Weinstein Company on this exciting project.”

Filming locations haven’t yet been confirmed, although it seems likely that the UK – and specifically Wales – will be used to double for 19th Century Russia.

War and Peace is major event drama for the BBC, written by Andrew Davies and made by BBC Productions. It’s fantastic to be partnering with the Weinstein Company on this exciting project.

Danny Cohen, Director of Television for BBC

Wales recently doubled for 15th Century Italy in David S Goyer’s Da Vinci’s Demons and the BBC now has additional, retrofitted studio space in Chepstow where sets were built for its fantasy drama Atlantis. The corporation also has its more established production facilities at Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff.

A year ago a period drama on the scale of War and Peace would most likely have had to film at least partly on location in Europe or elsewhere in the world, as was the case with the BBC’s recent period miniseries The White Queen (below), which recreated 15th Century England in Belgium.

Lookout Point has filmed the London-set Ripper Street in Dublin, Titanic in Hungary and the Kandahar-set Combat Hospital in Toronto, a city which offers one of the most competitive filming tax regimes in North America.

As a lavish costume drama, War and Peace will need a generous tax deal and is the sort of high-end production the UK government had in mind when it launched its TV tax credit earlier this year.

This will be the second time the BBC has filmed Tolstoy's epic. The first adaptation starred Anthony Hopkins and was screened in 1972.

(Main page image: Jvhertum; The White Queen photo: BBC)

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