Netflix has acquired the rights to Marco Polo, the upcoming 13th century-set series about the legendary adventurer. The drama, from the Weinstein Company and Electus, had previously been set up at Starz.
Starz first announced Marco Polo at the January 2012 Television Critics Association press tour, but the project has been in slow development since then. Insiders confirm that Starz released the project, freeing up the producers to shop it elsewhere. John Fusco (Hidalgo) is the executive producer and writer, while Dave Erickson (Sons of Anarchy) is executive producer and showrunner.
Marco Polo is the true story of "the world's greatest storyteller, an epic and cinematic adventure of high politics, masterful manipulation and deadly warfare." The nine-episode series will chronicle the famed explorer's journey during his early years in the court of Kublai Khan. Action will focus on the brutal war between two 13th century China empires.
Producers originally planned to shoot Marco Polo in China, but insiders say the production will now be filmed elsewhere.
Marco Polo was originally developed at Weinstein, which hired Fusco to write the script and then brought Electus on board. Weinstein's Harvey and Bob Weinstein, as well as Electus' Ben Silverman, are also executive producers.
Even as it passes on Marco Polo, Starz already has a hefty slate of new and returning shows set for 2014 — and several of them are already period pieces. Starz's lineup for next year includes season 2 of the Leonardo da Vinci drama DaVinci's Demons; Michael Bay's new pirate drama Black Sails; the 50 Cent drama Power; an adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander novels; the dark murder mystery Fortitude; and the BBC miniseries Dancing on the Edge.
Starz also confirmed today that its mobster drama Magic City, set in 1959 Miami, would end its run this Friday after two seasons. Up next for Starz is the historical England royal drama The White Queen, which premieres this Saturday at 8/7c.
The Netflix acquisition presumably means all nine "chapters" of Marco Polo will now be released simultaneously, perhaps some time in 2014.