Starz has journeyed back to Rome and Camelot with a couple of their original series, and now the cable network is heading into the past again for Marco Polo, a new epic series about the legendary 13th century explorer from Hidalgo writer John Fusco and executive producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein and Ben Silverman. Described as a martial arts epic, the series will follow Polo’s adventures throughout his early years in the court of Kublai Khan, the ruler of the Mongol Empire. Acting as the ruler’s spy, ambassador and explorer, Marco treks across the Far East and returns with tales of his journeys. In a court filled with political betrayal and forbidden relationships, Marco must use his martial arts training to survive, but it is his ability to enchant Khan with imaginative tales of his kingdom that is often his best tool to stay alive.
It definitely sounds like a side of Marco Polo that hasn’t been explored on the big or small screen, but it seems strange to think of Polo as a martial arts expert. Sounds a little bit like 13th century Jason Bourne without the identity crisis. Starz has had great success with Spartacus, but I haven’t found myself being drawn to their original content as much as networks like HBO or Showtime. However, they show no signs of slowing down in their efforts to complete with the Emmy nominated giants. Hit the jump for the full press release.
Here’s the full press release:
New York, NY and Beverly Hills, Calif. – January 13, 2012 – “Marco Polo,” the legendary pioneer and explorer from the 13th century, will have his tale told in an epic new scripted original series, as announced jointly by Starz, LLC, President and CEO Chris Albrecht, The Weinstein Company’s Co-Chairman, Harvey Weinstein, and Electus Chairman and Founder, Ben Silverman.
“Marco Polo” is written and created by John Fusco (Hidalgo, Young Guns, Thunderheart, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron – Academy Award® nomination for Best Screenplay). It will be executive produced by Harvey and Bob Weinstein (The Weinstein Company); Ben Silverman (Electus), as well as Fusco.
“Marco Polo” is Fusco’s fantastical martial arts epic, chronicling the famous adventurer’s early years in the court of Kublai Khan. Acting as the ruler’s spy, ambassador and explorer, Marco treks across the Far East and returns with tales of his journeys. In a court filled with political betrayal and forbidden relationships, Marco must use his martial arts training to survive, but it is his ability to enchant Khan with imaginative tales of his kingdom that is often his best tool to stay alive.
Starz Entertainment will own the exclusive license to the domestic premium pay TV rights and certain digital rights to the series for its flagship STARZ network, while Starz’s Anchor Bay arm will distribute the property in the United States in home video. The Weinstein Company and Electus’ global distribution arm Electus International control all remaining rights.
Albrecht commented on the latest addition to the Starz Original series lineup that “Marco Polo has captivated imaginations for centuries, and John’s script brings this fantastical story to life. In addition to a remarkable story, we share a joint creative vision with our partners at The Weinstein Company and Electus to deliver a larger than life cinematic adventure for audiences in the United States and around the world.”
“The stories and adventures of Marco Polo are timeless and we couldn’t be more excited to work with Starz and Electus on this project,” said Weinstein. “We look forward to beginning production next year on what is sure to be a fascinating, martial-arts filled telling of one of history’s greatest explorers.”
“We are thrilled to be able to work with an exceptional creative team to tell this amazing story in an updated and unique way,” said Ben Silverman, Chairman and Founder of Electus. “Starz has been a tremendous partner in allowing us maximum creative freedom to bring audiences a fresh perspective on history and John Fusco, who lives and breathes this material, is uniquely qualified to bring this story to life.”
Weinstein originally developed the idea and brought John Fusco on to write the script. It was then brought to Electus and together they delivered the project to Starz. John Fusco is represented by UTA and Anonymous Content.