Monday, 11 October 2021

Sony to acquire SFF-focused production company Bad Wolf

Sony Pictures Television is to acquire independent production company Bad Wolf, noted for its slate of SFF programming.

Bad Wolf was founded in 2015 by ex-BBC Drama head Jane Tranter and former Doctor Who producer Julie Gardner, and took its name from a story arc on Doctor Who. Headquartered in Cardiff, Wales, the company's first project was The Night Of for HBO and the BBC, which was a massive international success. A Discovery of Witches for Sky, based on the Deborah Harkness fantasy trilogy. They have since added Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials as a project for HBO and the BBC, and are currently shooting the third and concluding season. It is possible they might consider adapting the Book of Dust sequel/prequel project, and have incorporated elements from that trilogy in the existing TV series.

Bad Wolf will partner with the BBC in 2023 to produce the fourteenth season of the rebooted Doctor Who, and potentially further seasons beyond that. As well as Gardner being a former producer on the show, Jane Tranter was the person who formally commissioned the Doctor Who revival during her time at the BBC. Their former producing partner Russell T. Davies is returning to helm at least one season and the 60th anniversary celebrations, but may stay on beyond that.

Bad Wolf's other projects include Beddgelert, Industry and I Hate Suzie, the latter of which which will re-team the production company with former Doctor Who star Billie Piper. They are also developing a series based on Bernard Cornwell's acclaimed Warlord Chronicles trilogy, a more realistic take on the Arthurian legend.

Sony's acquisition of the company will give Sony a strong production partner based in the UK, which is rapidly becoming a boom location for shooting. Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon is currently shooting in the UK, and production of Netflix's The Witcher transferred to the UK from Eastern Europe for its second and subsequent seasons. Amazon is also in pre-production for Anansi Boys, Season 2 of Good Omens and Season 2 of its Lord of the Rings Second Age project, all rumoured to shoot in Scotland. Sony have reportedly committed to keeping Bad Wolf's headquarters in Cardiff and maintaining the UK as its primary production base.

Sony acquiring Bad Wolf does not mean they have acquired Doctor Who, of course. Bad Wolf are producing the show to-order for the BBC, which retains ownership, all related copyrights and trademarks. Bad Wolf will be producing the show on behalf of the BBC in a deal which the BBC can amend as required. However, it is likely that the deal gives Bad Wolf (and hence Sony) a slice of overseas profits, which may allow them to invest more heavily in the show; Doctor Who has famously been on a very tight (and stretched beyond breaking point) budget since the BBC effectively froze its production budgets after the financial crisis of 2008. 

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