Netflix's Next Ambitious Original Series: Marco Polo, by the Weinstein Co.

Keeping Both Feet on the Gas as Rivals Try to Catch Up

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Netflix, the largest subscription streaming service, reached an agreement to carry an original TV series about the explorer Marco Polo from Weinstein Co., the independent film studio.

Marco Polo
Marco Polo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The nine-episode series will be available to subscribers of Los Gatos, California-based Netflix late this year, the companies said today in a statement. Shooting will begin soon at the Pinewood Studios in Malaysia, Netflix said.

The accord builds on an August deal giving Netflix exclusive rights to Weinstein films released in theaters starting in 2016. The online service already airs documentaries and foreign movies from closely held Weinstein, the New York-based studio owned by brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein.

Netflix is attracting subscribers with a combination of exclusive films, original shows and a library of vintage content. Its originals including "House of Cards" were nominated for a slew of Emmy awards, prompting Golden Globes co-host Amy Poehler to crack Sunday night, "Enjoy it while you can Netflix, because you won't be feeling so smug in a few years when Snapchat is up here accepting awards."

Rival streaming service Hulu last week announced its own expanded slate of original series, including a spoof of Bravo's "Real Housewives" franchise called "The Hotwives of Orlando" but nothing sounding quite as ambitious as "House of Cards" or the forthcoming Marco Polo series.

The planned show will take place during a war in 13th century China, featuring martial arts, sexual and political intrigue, and battle scenes, Netflix said.

Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, who made the 2012 Oscar nominated feature "Kon-Tiki," will direct the series, joined by executive producer and director Dan Minahan and executive producer and creator John Fusco, according to the statement.

~ Bloomberg News with Ad Age staff ~

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