First one, then two, then 20: a small Stockholm company has in current days been deluged with bids for the rights to air the hit comedy collection starring Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, a former actor turned wartime hero.
“It’s been very, very busy. All around the world, people have asked for the rights because they want to broadcast it,” explains Eccho Rights co-founder Nicola Soderlund within the company’s elegant places of work within the Swedish capital.
Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, broadcasters reminiscent of Britain’s Channel 4, Greece’s ANT1 and Romania’s PRO TV have hastened to affix those that have already snapped up the rights to “Servant of the People”, which first aired in Ukraine in 2015.
“I think last week we made maybe 15 deals and we are in negotiations with another 20 countries,” says Soderlund, a poster promoting the collection hanging above his desk.
“The latest we heard of is Latin America, we’re discussing with the US, Netflix, we’re discussing with many.”
In Italy alone, three or 4 broadcasters are at the moment vying for the rights, whereas in Greece, the present is airing nightly on primetime.
“In a way, it’s an act of solidarity with the Ukrainians, and at the same time, of curiosity — you want to see who he is,” Soderlund says of Zelensky.
The president’s stature has soared on the worldwide stage because the begin of the invasion, impressing the world along with his fearless willpower within the face of the Russian onslaught.
Soderlund first met Zelensky 10 years in the past, when the Ukrainian was growing a sport present referred to as “Crack Them Up” wherein strange individuals attempt to make comedians chuckle, an idea later offered to Vietnam, China and Finland.
“I went to lunch with him in Kyiv,” remembers Soderlund. “He had all these crazy and funny ideas”.
Pulling out his cellphone, he exhibits selfies of himself posing with Zelensky on the Cannes movie market in 2016 — held alongside the famed movie pageant — the place producers, distributors and consumers do enterprise.
– ‘Needed a hero like him’ –
At the time, it was unimaginable that this “very funny comedian, very popular and loved by audiences” would go on to develop into Vladimir Putin’s major goal and “this world leader who embodies and speaks for the whole nation”.
“We needed a hero like him, after Trump and all that,” Eccho Rights managing director Fredrik af Malmborg interjects.
With “Servant of the People”, life imitated artwork.
In the collection, which ran for 3 seasons, Zelensky performed a highschool trainer propelled to the presidency after a pupil’s video of him ranting about corruption in Ukraine went viral.
The present’s success propelled Zelensky to the presidency in actual life.
“He always said, ‘In the US they’ve had actors becoming president for a long time'”, af Malmborg remembers.
While the corporate hasn’t had any contact with Zelensky himself just lately, Eccho has been in touch with a few of his representatives.
“One has fled to Turkey and the other is in Rotterdam, but they are in contact with ‘Vova’, as they still call him”, af Malmborg says.
The particulars of the rights contracts being negotiated are confidential, however the rights price “around a million euros”.
Eccho Rights additionally has one other collection produced by Zelensky in its catalogue, “Svaty” (“In-Laws”).
The firm, which employs round 40 individuals in Stockholm, London and Istanbul, has donated 50,000 euros to the Ukrainian Red Cross and plans to donate extra as extra contracts are signed.
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