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Fremantle’s Lux Vide and Rai join forces on a new adaptation of Sandokan, toplined by Can Yaman


- The show, helmed by Jan Maria Michelini and Nicola Abbatangelo, follows the adventures of the titular pirate and his motley crew fighting against colonial powers in Southeast Asia

Fremantle’s Lux Vide and Rai join forces on a new adaptation of Sandokan, toplined by Can Yaman
l-r: Actors Alessandro Preziosi, Alanah Bloor, Can Yaman, Ed Westwick and John Hannah

A brand-new adaptation of Emilio Salgari’s epic saga Sandokan is now in the works. The original 1976 TV series, toplined by Kabir Bedi and helmed by Sergio Sollima, sold to more than 85 countries.

The creative team bills the new Sandokan as “a grand and epic action-adventure with a strong connection to the environment”. It was developed by Alessandro Sermoneta (Devils), Scott Rosenbaum (The Shield) and Davide Lantieri (Monterossi), with Jan Maria Michelini (Devils) and Nicola Abbatangelo (Doc – Nelle tue mani) attached to direct.

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Turkey’s Can Yaman (Dolunay, Violet Like the Sea) stars as the legendary pirate, alongside British newcomer Alanah Bloor (Waves) as Lady Marianne, the spirited daughter of the British consul. The international cast is rounded off by Ed Westwick (Gossip Girl, Children of Men), Alessandro Preziosi (The Doctors, Black Out, The Lying Life of Adults), John Hannah (The Last of Us, Sliding Doors, The Mummy), Madeleine Price, Gilberto Gliozzi (Them, I delitti del Barlume), Mark Grosy (ZeroZeroZero [+see also:
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) and Samuele Segreto (Stranizza d’amuri [+see also:
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, The Hour).

In detail, the new series promises to “get to the roots of a myth, exploring the origins of the Tiger of Malaya” and “telling of his trajectory from simple adventurer to pirate prince”. In Borneo, a tropical paradise inhabited by the native Dayak tribes, but dominated by the ruthless law of the British colonialists, Sandokan is a pirate who lives day to day: he fights only for himself and his crew, including his trusted Yanez. But his life changes when, during a raid, he meets Marianne, the beautiful daughter of the British consul in Labuan. It is the beginning of an impossible love affair between two kindred spirits: Marianne, of European and noble blood, but with the wild spirit of someone who grew up in a tropical paradise, and Sandokan, a pirate and adventurer, who unknowingly carries in him the blood of ancient warrior kings. On their trail will be the legendary pirate hunter Lord James Brooke, who will stop at nothing to capture Sandokan and win Marianne's heart.

The protagonists will fight for themselves and for their love, but they will soon realise that they are part of a much bigger story: that of a people fighting for freedom and for the salvation of unspoilt nature... And this people, the Dayaks, are looking for a leader who can save them. For this, Sandokan will be called upon to be more than just a pirate: he will have to become the legendary Tiger of Malaya.

Sandokan is set to air on Rai 1 in Italy. Fremantle’s Lux Vide is producing in collaboration with Rai Fiction. It will be distributed internationally by Fremantle and in Spain by Mediterráneo Mediaset España Group.

Producer and Lux Vide CEO Luca Bernabei commented: “Sandokan is not just a story about pirates, or about history, or adventures in exotic lands; Sandokan is all of these and more. It’s a story about love: one of the first multicultural romances of our times and, never more timely than today, a symbol of a passionate and peaceful answer to hate and division.”

Jens Richter, CEO Commercial and International at Fremantle, added: “We are excited to reveal a first look at Sandokan. Action-adventure at its best, built on a fantastic pirate franchise, it’s a premium series full of fun and escapism, brought to life by our spectacular ensemble cast. Lux Vide and Rai Fiction are fantastic partners, and we are thrilled to be part of this world-class series with them.”

The project entered production on 22 April in Formello, Latium, where Lux Vide has inaugurated its seventh studio production hub. Filming will continue in Latium, Tuscany, Réunion and Calabria. The latter will host the set of the English colony of Labuan, which has been built with the support of the Calabria Film Commission and the Calabria region in Lamezia Terme.

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