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Italy’s Cross Set for Werewolf Immigrant TV Series ‘Wolfsburg’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety — Nick Vivarelli

Italy’s Cross Productions, in which Germany’s Beta Film has a stake, is shopping “Wolfsburg,” a high-end TV series which turns on an Italian immigrant who during the 1960s arrives in the German city of Wolfsburg, headquarters of Volkswagen Group, and morphs into a murderous werewolf.

The innovative skein, now in advanced development, is being set up as an Italian/German co-production. Beta included it in its Berlinale Series Market presentation. The plan is to unveil a €1 million ($1.1 million) lavish “Wolfsburg” proof-of-concept teaser/trailer during the Beta brunch at MipTV in Cannes next month.

“The basic idea is to mix genres by having horror, or rather fantasy, intersect with Italian neorealism,” said Rosario Rinaldo, chief of Cross. Cross recently made “The Hunter,” the fact-based show about a Palermo prosecutor with a killer instinct for tracking down top Mafiosi that’s made a local splash after premiering in 2018 at Canneseries and also travelled some.

Rinaldo added that at its core “Wolfsburg” is about the timely “fear of those who are different” by recounting the rapport between “a German and an Italian community and the fears that immigration causes.”

“Wolfsburg” writer/showrunner is Stefano Sardo whose credits include the Italian version of “In Treatment” and also Sky’s “1992,” “1993” and “1994” series. The director will be “The Hunter” helmer Davide Marengo.

Since this is an VFX-driven show, Rinaldo said a key aspect will be how well they manage to make the werewolf look good on screen. “We worked on giving the wolf human traits. He’s neither animal nor human,” he said.

Spanish visual effects supervisor Victor Perez (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”) has been laboring on the werewolf with an international team led by Italian VFX producer Federico Gnoli (“My Brilliant Friend”) and Rinaldo is pleased with the results.

Current investors in the 10-episode project, which has a hefty €28 million ($30 million) budget, are RAI Fiction and Beta. The German production company is Beta subsidiary Good Friends. Their investment, combined with Italian tax credits and German regional funds now accounts for roughly €22 million ($24.4 million), said Rinaldo. He is seeking other partners and “is open to all possibilities.”

Rinaldo said that regardless of whether he obtains his desired budget, the plan is to start production no later than October 2020 with the physical shoot to take place mostly in Germany and partly in Italy, but production spend to be allocated 60% in Italy and 40% in Germany.

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