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Cottonwood, ZDF, ZDFE, HBO Max, Globo Set ‘Indiana Jones’-Style Live-Action Kids Series ‘Theodosia’ (EXCLUSIVE)

John Hopewell and Elsa Keslassy
·4-min read

In a powerful alliance, Paris-based premium kids content producer Cottonwood Media, German public broadcaster ZDF and its co-pro and distribution arm ZDF Enterprises, HBO Max and Brazil’s Globo are teaming to produce “Theodosia,” a big new live action kids adventure series targeting family audiences.

No budget is given for the 26-part half hour series. Its combination, however, of elements which make for high-end entertainment – period costume, action and foreseeable heavy VXF – suggest this is another big play by two of Europe’s champions of ambitious live-action kids shows.

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One is Cottonwood Media, the kids and family production company at Paris and L.A -based Federation Entertainment whose credits include Studiocanal’s Cannes 2019 pre-sales movie hit “Around the World in 80 Days,” to be screened at Berlin.

The other, ZDF and ZDFE, has a storied recent history in live action kids shows. “Theodosia” will “continue our successful ZDF live action productions such as ‘H2O,’ ‘Mako Mermaids,’ ‘The Worst Witch’ and, of course, ‘Find Me in Paris,’” said Nicole Keeb, head of international co-productions and acquisitions, children and youth, ZDF.

Federation Kids & Family and ZDFE will handle global sales; HBO Max has U.S. pay TV/SVOD distribution.
Set in 1906 London, and based on acclaimed children’s fantasy novels published by New York Times best-selling author Robin L. LaFevers, “Theodosia” turns on a fearless and clever 14-year-old girl, Theodosia Throckmorton (aka Theo) who lives and breathes Egyptology – thanks to her archeologist mother and father who runs London’s Museum of Legends and Antiquities, where her family lives.

Her home has a downside, however. Accompanying her parents to the Valley of the Kings, Theo and younger brother Henry stumble upon a hidden tomb and mysterious artifact, the Eye of Horus – which unlocks in Theo the power to detect and transform ancient curses still carried by the ancient Egyptian artifacts which her parents transport back to London. Returning home, Theo must battle with ancient forces and dark magic and survive teenage life and school while saving the world.

“This is ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘Indiana Jones’ with a girl lead, which you don’t get very often in teen live action nor period drama,” said David Michel, president & co-founder of Cottonwood Media.

“Theodosia” turns on “the excitement of growing up and seeing a 14-year-old in action and adventure scenes that you wouldn’t imagine. It’s also a show about identity, about a girl who discovers who she really is and her powers,” he added.

The series is set to commence production in April 2021 in Paris and Brussels, which still retains 1906 period detail such as dark back alleys no longer found in London. It will be shot in a cinematic style by Matthias Hoene (“Cockneys vs Zombies,” “The Warriors Gate”) accompanied by other directors such as Alex Jacob (“Hollyoaks,” “Doctors”).

Executive producers on the series are Emmy award-winning Joe Williams (“Hank Zipzer’s Christmas Catastrophe,” “Young Dracula,” “Eve”), who also serves as head writer, and Cottonwood Media’s Leila Smith (“Find Me in Paris,” “Lockout”).

“Theodosia” is produced by Cottonwood Media’s David Michel, Cécile Lauritano and Zoé Carrera Allaix. Williams serves as head writer.

“It has everything a writer could wish for – magic, mystery and Mummies!” exclaimed Williams. The real forces of evil in the series, however, are not so much Ancient Egyptian but human, contemporary and come from the Western hemisphere.

Key cast includes British actor Eloise Little (“His Dark Materials,” “Father Brown”) as Theodosia, Nana Agyeman-Bediako (“Come Away,” “The State,” “The Huntsman: Winter’s War”) as Will, her close friend and a magician, and U.K.-Egyptian actor Yasmina El-Abd (“Daughters of Abdul-Rahman”) as Safiya, one of Theo’s closest allies.

“Theodosia” follows-up teen time-travel drama “Find Me in Paris,” which has now run to three seasons and was produced by Cottonwood Media and ZDF and ZDFE, Be-Films and the National Opera of Paris.

“After the successful cooperation during three seasons of ‘Find Me in Paris,’ it was only logical to realize the book adaptation of ‘Theodosia’ jointly with Cottonwood,” said Arne Lohmann, VP at ZDFE.junior, ZDFE.

In Brazil, the series – supported in curation and artistic development by Globo’s kids unit channels Gloob and Gloobinho – will bow on Globoplay, one of fastest-growing and most ambitious of Latin American SVOD services. It marks Globoplay’s first international children’s live-action co-production, noted Ana Carolina Lima, head of content at Globoplay.

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