Finnish Digital Media Fund IPR.VC Backs Development of YA Book Series for Television

In News by Porter Anderson

The allegorical fantasy writings of Italian author Roberto Ricci are coming first to television, with licensed media and products to follow. UK agent Lisa Hryniewicz is handling the rights.

Artwork from Roberto Ricci’s ‘The Red Harlequin’ series, Book 1. Image: Patominus Media

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

A ‘Long-Term 360 Strategy’
One of the key themes in many markets of the international book industry this year is the question of how reading and book publishing will hold their own in competition with high-quality film and television.

One path forward seems to lie in exploring collaborative development across media sectors.

All of which makes it interesting to learn that the Finnish media fund IPR.VC has a deal to fund the development of a television series based on Italian author Roberto Ricci’s YA fantasy series, The Red Harlequin. As it turns out, this arrangement was made not by a publishing house but by a new company formed by the author and his agent.

The agreement was made by Ricci and Koko Media Agency’s Lisa Hryniewicz in London. If that rings a bell, it might be because Hryniewicz is the agent whose international rights sales Publishing Perspectives covered in November for Jo Rose’s Deer Little Forest content.

Ricci and Hryniewicz have created Pantomimus Media, a limited company set up to hold and develop all rights to The Red Harlequin.

Roberto Ricci

As Emiliano de Pabos at Variety describes it, Ricci’s series “is set in an ancient, alternate world where Chromes and Harlequins live divided by colors, and everyone hides behind masks.” IPR.VC’s promotional material refers to it as an allegory on “society, religion, politics, morality, and revolution,” reflective of populist and youth movements today. The first book in the self-published series dates to 2012 in paperback on the Amazon UK site.

Relative to NPD Group’s new BookScan License Reporting Service—which we reported on in an interview last week with Kristen McLean—Ricci’s material is said to consist now of five books, with five more planned over five years, as well as a graphic novel and a second one in production, and several other licenses including jewelry and music.

IPR.VC specializes its venture capital investments on digital media content. It’s described as targeting “unlisted, small, early-stage media and entertainment companies that produce replicable media content products, from mobile to big screen, as well as physical goods for international markets.”

Since its start in 2015, the company has included in its portfolio the Scandinavian crime drama Bordertown, distributed by Federation Entertainment; an animated preschool show, Gigglebug, currently airing on Milkshake, YLE and SFR; and the feature film How to Sell a War, directed by Rudolph Herzog.

The company is registered by the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority (FIN-FSA) as an alternative investment fund manager, and its reference to the project on its site talks of a “long-term 360 strategy” for the Ricci property.

Rick Porras is attached as executive producer and previously has worked with projects including Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy; Robert Zemeckis’ Contact and Forrest Gump; and Sony London Studio’s Blood & Truth, a narrative game developed for PlayStation VR.

In a prepared statement, Timo Argillander, managing partner at IPR.VC, is quoted calling the Ricci content “a unique and compelling IP whose content can easily extend from books and comics to a plethora of formats and adaptations, such as TV, music, video games, film and licensing.”

And Ricci in press materials, Ricci says, “IPR’s strategic support will be instrumental to [the content’s] success as a quintessential 360 transmedia property.”

De Pablo at Variety cites the plan for the television show as calling for 12 one hour episodes, shot with an international cast on an estimated budget of €30 million (US$34.8 million) per season.

Image: Patominus Media

More from Publishing Perspectives on rights and licensing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.