FOX musical drama ‘Empire’ is UK bound.
Already popular online thanks to its groundbreaking run in the US, the Lee Daniels series looks set for an international breakthrough now that it’s found a home on one of the UK’s biggest channels.
It was announced today that the Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson production will commence airing on E4 this Spring.
A sister channel to major broadcaster Channel 4, the network is considered the UK’s top youth geared station.
Beyond being a major coup for both the show and E4, ‘Empire’s arrival in Britain is noteworthy because it almost never happened.
In a feature published by The Hollywood Reporter, it was revealed that there was minimal interest in the show internationally pre its airing Stateside. After it exploded, the climate naturally changed:
An international push is key to Empire‘s growth strategy. Although the series has generated enthusiasm overseas, Marion Edwards, 20th Century Fox’s president of international TV, notes that took time and ratings success that was impossible to ignore. In fact, when Edwards began screening the pilot for international buyers last spring, she was surprised by the widespread disinterest. “They thought the show was cast with people who potentially couldn’t work in their markets,” she says, referring to the show’s African-American cast led by Oscar nominees Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. “And music is hard because you can’t dub it.”
But that international interest level began to increase considerably when buyers saw the amount of marketing muscle Fox had put behind the show (Empire and Gotham consumed the lion’s share of the network’s marketing dollars this season) and then the eye-popping ratings it started to garner. By week three, Edwards had multiple broadcasters in key territories eager to get a deal done. She cites the U.K. market, often a strong indicator of European heat, by way of example: “We had no offer and no interest [prelaunch], and now we have three broadcasters vying to get it.”
It’s no secret that international markets sadly continue to be weary pushing anything remotely “Urban” – on both the big and small screens. Hopefully the arrival of ‘Empire’ serves as a catalyst for much needed change.