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Guardian strikes TV and film deal with company behind The Crown

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The Guardian has struck a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment, the parent of the producers of content including The Crown, Doctor Who and Sex Education, to develop the media group’s content for adaptation to film and TV.

The deal with Guardian Media Group, the parent company of the Guardian and Observer newspapers and international digital businesses, will give SPE exclusive first-look rights to Guardian’s global journalism.

The collaboration agreement spans SPE’s production companies – which include Left Bank Pictures, which made The Crown; Bad Wolf, which produced His Dark Materials; and Eleven, the company behind Sex Education – as well as the US giant’s film division, which includes Columbia, TriStar and 3000.

“We are delighted to announce this new, strategic collaboration with SPE, which will serve to evolve and grow the Guardian’s activity in TV and film,” said Keith Underwood, GMG’s chief financial and operating officer. “SPE brings industry-leading development, production and distribution expertise on a global scale and this agreement reflects our mutual commitment and shared passion to bring more Guardian journalism to screen.”

The Guardian picked up the best documentary short film Academy Award in 2021 for Colette, which told the story of 90-year-old Colette Marin-Catherine, one of the last surviving members of the French resistance.

This followed Black Sheep, which made the Oscar nominations list in the same category in 2019.

A new executive team, appointed by SPE and the Guardian, will mine and develop content across the Guardian’s news, features, blog, video and podcast output.

Three option deals for unnamed projects are already in the works to mark the launch of the new collaborative partnership, which will also draw on the Guardian’s journalists and contributors as projects develop.

“To be able to draw on the Guardian’s extraordinary journalism, past, present and future, to create a new generation of dramas, documentaries and movies is an incredibly exciting opportunity for us at Sony Pictures,” the company’s president, Wayne Garvie, said.

“We are continually seeking stories that have a distinctive and creative spirit, and connect with audiences the world over. The Guardian team certainly brings those qualities through in their top-notch journalism.”

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Guardian intellectual property and reporting that has been turned into productions includes Snowden, the 2016 film by Oliver Stone starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the whistleblowing US intelligence analyst; The Fifth Estate about the WikiLeaks investigation; and 2018 feature film King of Thieves about the Hatton Garden heist.

The deal with Sony was brokered by the London-based literary and talent agency Curtis Brown.

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