Making its way through the jungle of this fall’s teen soap/drama offerings is New Line Cinema-distributed The Lost World. Based on the book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World is the story of a group of adventurers in the early 20th century who gather for an expedition through the uncharted Amazon jungle to prove without question the existence of dinosaurs.
‘It’s sort of a Star Trek/Lost In Space/Gilligan’s Island thing, where each week they’re encountering new challenges and new civilizations,’ says Chris Russo, executive VP of New Line Cinema, which has North American rights for the series. The Lost World will also feature computer-generated dinosaurs created by Canadian-based animation company Hybrid.
‘I think technology has advanced to the point where, for TV budgets, you can make dinosaurs look good,’ says Russo. Per-episode costs were reported to be around US$1 million. With 22 hour-long episodes wrapping up production in Australia, the series will begin airing on September 27. Russo says the syndie show, which is aimed at the 12 to 24 set, has cleared in 92% of the U.S. market.
In describing The Lost World’s teen appeal, Russo says: ‘There’s a distinction or a point of departure for this series. It’s about adventure, action and great characters. It’s different than the next 90210 or WB show.’ However, he maintains that there will be threads of the themes that teens relate to, such as friendship and adventure-and, of course, sexy male and female co-stars.
Co-production partners on the series include Canada’s Telescene and Coote-Hayes Productions, in association with Landis’ company St. Clare Entertainment.
In addition to the TV show, New Line plans an extensive Internet presence for The Lost World. Besides series information and clips, Russo hopes a live camera can be set up on location, so site visitors can watch production behind the scenes.
New Line is also developing a teen project called Chinese Takeout, which celebrates the Hong Kong cinema genre with a cheeky twist. Russo says the project is about taking the best kung-foo-type flicks and adding commentary and humor to bring the genre to a wider-and younger-audience.