Broadcaster ARTE and US SVOD platform CuriosityStream have commissioned The Living Universe, a co-production between Essential Media and Entertainment and French producer and distributor ZED.

A story "set in the past, present and future", The Living Universe chronicles the search for new life forms in the distant reaches of the galaxy.

The US$5m project consists of a ninety minute feature documentary and 4 x 60 minute TV series.

It is directed and presented by leading scientist and filmmaker Dr. Richard Smith (Australia: The Time Traveler’s Guide, A Traveler’s Guide to the Planets). 

A French version will also be co-directed by Vincent Amouroux (Species of Mass Destruction, Darwin 2.0).

The project will be shot in 4K around the world, and make use of extensive CGI.

The agreement sees ZED acquiring the international distribution rights whilst teaming up in the co-production with ARTE who has acquired the TV broadcast rights for France and Germany.

Curiosity Stream has acquired the streaming rights in the US and Caribbean.

The Living Universe will be executive produced by Essential Media’s Chris Hilton and Alan Erson alongside ZED’s Christine Le Goff.

“After nearly 30 years in documentary production this is one of the most exciting and ambitious projects to date,” said Hilton. “It’s an honour and a privilege to be working with the likes of ARTE, Curiosity Stream and ZED on such a project”.

ZED's Christine Le Goff said, “A project of such scope and ambition exists thanks to a team of experienced partners that know and trust each other. It is quite an honour to be associated with that great adventure.”

Head of Specialist Factual at ARTE France Hélène Coldefy said, “This spectacular series, at the cutting-edge of technology and made with the help of some globally renowned specialists, fully meets ARTE’s requirements in terms of captivating, high-quality documentaries for the widest possible audience.” 

Screen Australia and Screen NSW are also partnering on the project, alongside France’s CNC and the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

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