Film and television producer Paul Trijbits (Saving Mr Banks, The Casual Vacancy), together with producer and former Focus and Universal executive JJ Lousberg, are launching a new venture – Magical Society UK – in partnership with French company Magical Society.

Magical Society UK is a joint venture with Paris-based Magical Society, which was launched in 2020. Magical Society in France is headed up by celebrated comic-book artist and filmmaker Joann Sfar (Le Chat du Rabin, Monster’s Shrink, Mr Crocodile) and renowned French animation producer Aton Soumache, whose credits include Le Petit Prince, worldwide phenomenon Miraculous Ladybug, currently Netflix most-watched animated feature film, who founded the kids & family European leader group ON Entertainment in 2014, and is the current honorary chairman and a shareholder of Mediawan Kids & Family.

The company will draw on Joann Sfar’s wide array of properties (Klezmer, The Rabbi’s Cat, Aspirin, Little Vampire, and The Little Prince) as well as original works, with A list and new talent, all sharing the same imaginative spirit. They are an invitation for audiences to embark on a journey beyond the ordinary and each bearing the Magical Society signature blend of fantasy, artistry, and emotional resonance.

Amongst the company’s first greenlit projects, and to be produced by its crime genre label Magical North, is the recently announced six-part BBC One drama series Virdee, based on AA Dhand’s best-selling crime novels and starring Sacha Dhawan (Doctor Who, The Great, Wolf). The series introduces Detective Harry Virdee (Sacha Dhawan), a Bradford cop disowned by his Sikh family for marrying Saima, who is Muslim. Harry struggles with the abandonment, constantly attempting to reunite with his family. With his personal life in chaos, he must hunt down a killer targeting the Asian community. Virdee is a Magical Society production in association with Screen Yorkshire for BBC One and BBC iPlayer. Cineflix Rights is the exclusive worldwide distribution partner.

Another project on the Magical North development slate is The Botanist from Sunday Times best-selling author M. W. Craven and winner of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2023, to be adapted by AA Dhand (Virdee). Written with characteristic hard-boiled wit, The Botanist is another exhilarating DS Washington Poe investigation and part of Craven’s Washington Poe’s series of detective novels, combining a locked room mystery where the chief suspect is one of Poe’s colleagues with a poisoner targeting the rich and famous.

In advanced development at Magical Society UK is Monsters’ Shrink, a returnable eight-part grounded genre series based on Sfar’s work, written and adapted by Jeremy Dyson (Ghost Stories, League of Gentlemen, Killing Eve), with further Joann Sfar led project announcements to follow.

Trijbits’ recent credits include Netflix’s The Letter For The King, John Carney’s Sing Street and Disney’s Saving Mr Banks. His other producing credits include Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre. He was previously the head of the UK Film Council’s New Cinema Fund, where his credits included Golden Bear winner Bloody Sunday, Shane Meadows’ This is England and Golden Lion winner Touching The Void.

Lousberg recently produced Day & Night, the top-rated medical series for Dutch broadcaster NPO and was previously Focus Features/Universal’s SVP International Productions and Acquisitions working across the slate on films like Ex Machina, Mama, and Theory of Everything. He also led the local language strategy for the studio, co-producing Heartbreaker, Babysitting, Spanish Affair and Julia’s Eyes. Previously he oversaw international project investment at the UK Film Council, and before that, he acquired for New Line Cinema.

Also joining the Magical Society team created from key elements of Trijbits’ former company FilmWave are Callum Dodgson as Head of Development and Laura Douras as Director of Finance and Production Finance.

Dodgson joined after script editing three seasons of the BBC crime show Silent Witness. Before that he was a development executive at The Ink Factory, having joined the company at its inception, working on projects including The Night Manager, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Message for the King, and A Most Wanted Man. Dodgson has worked closely with AA Dhand on the development of Virdee and is co-producing the series for BBC One

Laura Douras is Magical Society’s Head of Finance & Production Finance, and a Chartered Accountant with over 15 years’ commercial experience in the TV and Entertainment Sector. Prior to joining Magical Society, she worked in a variety of senior finance roles at FilmWave, Avalon Entertainment, and Fremantlemedia giving her a breadth of exposure across the industry both in the UK and globally.

Pippa Considine

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