Maigret Rides Again: Playground Entertainment Options Georges Simenon’s Books

In News by Porter Anderson

Red Arrow Studios has co-development rights with Playground for all 75 novels and 28 short stories about the French detective Jules Maigret.

Rowan Atkinson and Leo Staar in the 2016 ‘Maigret Sets a Trap,’ screenplay by Stewart Harcourt for Jeremy Gwilt’s production with Fragile Films. Image: promotional still

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

Gerhartz: ‘A Romantic Yet Gritty World of Paris’
From the United Kingdom—which loves its detective and crime books like America loves romance and politics—there’s book-to-screen rights news this week in the announcement that Playground Entertainment and Red Arrow Studios International are in co-development on the Penguin perennial inspector Maigret books.

Georges Simenon, a 1963 photo by Erling Mandelmann. Image: CC BY SA 3.0

Media messaging says that at least some of the books and stories have been translated into more than 50 languages and have sold more than 600 million copies combined. Georges Simenon was Belgian and wildly prolific, reportedly publishing close to 500 novels before his death in 1989 in Lausanne at age 86.

The new Maigret license was brokered by John Simenon and Hilary Strong for the estate, Georges Simenon Ltd. with Peters Fraser Dunlop’s Jonathan Sissons. The co-development deal was brokered by Carlo Dusi for Red Arrow Studios International.

It’s an interesting move, not only because it carries the potential for some very rich retro-styled development but also because this is hardly the first time M. Maigret has taken to the screens, large or small. Clearly a track record of success with audiences and readers is in place to inform new adaptations.

Some, but not all, previous adaptations include:

  • A television series, 1991 to 2005, from France’s Antenne 2
  • Another television series, 1964 to 1968, from Belgische Radio en Televisie (BRT)
  • Another television series, 1992 and 1993 from the British Granada Television
  • Another television series, 1967 to 1990, again from France’s Antenne 2
  • Yet another television series, 1960 to 1963, from the BBC
  • A film in 1958, Inspector Maigret
  • A film in 2017, Maigret in Montmartre
  • Another film in 1988, Maigret
  • A television film in 2016 Maigret Sets a Trap
  • A film in 1959, Maigret and the St. Fiacre Case

At we’ve spotted at least five more productions for film and/or television.

The newly announced adaptation is to be executive-produced for Playground by Colin Callender, David Stern, and Scott Huff; for Red Arrow by Tim Gerhartz and Rodrigo Herrera Ibarguengoytia; and by John Simenon and Hilary Strong for the Simenon estate.

Tim Gerhartz

In a prepared statement, Tim Gerhartz, president and managing director with Red Arrow, is quoted, saying, “As one of the most recognized and celebrated detective novel collections of all time, it’s a privilege to collaborate with Playground and Georges Simenon Ltd. on developing the iconic Jules Maigret character for television, and portraying the romantic yet gritty world of Paris he inhabits.

“Playground has an eminent reputation for bringing award-winning and striking series to international audiences, and we look forward creating a fresh and distinctive adaptation that will appeal to Maigret’s existing fans as well as new ones.

John Simenon

And for the estate, John Simenon says, “As the administrator of the various components of Simenon’s IP estate, I’m constantly reminded of the rare privilege, and the corresponding responsibilities, associated with the management of such an exceptional legacy.

“It’s a challenging mission to reach out, through all media, to the widest potential audience for my father’s works and values, while preserving their integrity as well as his own.

“In that respect, this very special project is a key opportunity and I look forward to working on it with Playground and Red Arrow.”

For Playground—which currently has Harry Potter and the Cursed Child onstage in the West End with Sonia Friedman Productions—the company’s joint managing directors Scott Huff and David Stern are quoted saying, “Georges Simenon was one of the most prolific crime authors of the 20th century and his seminal creation, Inspector Maigret, remains one of literature’s greatest detectives.

“It’s a rare opportunity to adapt a work that is both distinctive and timeless and we’re incredibly grateful to the Simenon Estate and for the partnership of Red Arrow as we bring Maigret to a global audience.”

In 2020, 90 percent of Georges Simenon Ltd. was acquired by International Literary Properties, and this is the first major international agreement announced by the estate since that acquisition was made. Hilary Strong is CEO of International Literary Properties and director now of Georges Simenon Ltd.

More from Publishing Perspectives on rights is here, more on book-to-film development is here, and more on film and television is here.

More on the impact on world publishing and the books business of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic 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.