Nadcon Film, South Africa’s Gambit Films Team Up on ‘Revenge Trilogy’ Crime Series (EXCLUSIVE)

Peter Nadermann’s Nadcon Film and South African genre specialists Gambit Films (“Indemnity”) are teaming up to adapt a trilogy of best-selling crime thrillers, Variety can reveal.

The “Revenge Trilogy” is based on the Cape Town-set novels from South African author Mike Nicol. The books will be adapted for screen by Gambit’s Daryne Joshua and will be produced by Gambit Films and Nadcon Film in cooperation with ZDF Enterprises, which co-owns Nadcon.

The story begins with ex-gun-runners Mace Bishop and Pylon Buso, who made an illicit fortune while part of the struggle against Apartheid but are now at the helm of a private security company, trying to settle into a comfortable life in Cape Town. With their ill-gotten riches stuck in the Cayman Islands, however, the partners find their dreams of a worry-free future in jeopardy.

Instead, they’re plunged into Cape Town’s violent underworld, where a powerful adversary – the crime-fighting super-lawyer Sheemina February – will force them to confront long-forgotten demons through a brilliantly dark plan of revenge.

A pioneer of the Nordic Noir genre, Nadermann – whose credits include ground-breaking Scandi series “The Killing” and “The Bridge,” as well as Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” film trilogy – said he was instantly drawn to the compelling trio of novels.

“I am always searching for exciting crime literature, and when I came across Mike Nicol’s ‘Revenge Trilogy,’ with its dramatically sharpened story and his breathtaking style full of action and big images, I immediately thought this would be wonderful material for a series adaptation,” said Nadermann, who optioned the three books.

“As I prefer to produce our adaptations where the stories actually happen, I was looking out for a South Africa-based production company and very quickly and easily my decision fell on Gambit Films, whom I already had on my radar from their outstanding Netflix series ‘Blood & Water.’ So I contacted them and soon realized that we have found our perfect partner,” he added.

The trilogy is being developed with an eye toward turning it into either a 6×45’ series or three 90-minute films. “It just depends on who comes onboard to close the finance,” said Gambit’s Bradley Joshua. “We do want to position it in a way that we are able to finance it and sell it and not exclude any opportunities.”

The production outfit behind Nosipho Dumisa’s Fantasia Film Festival prize winner “Number 37” and Travis Taute’s action thriller “Indemnity” (pictured), which was released theatrically in North America on Feb. 11 by Magnolia Pictures’ genre arm Magnet Releasing, Gambit has rapidly emerged as South Africa’s leading producer of genre content.

“I think there’s so much potential [in genre filmmaking]. I don’t feel like in South Africa we’ve done it properly yet. I think ‘Indemnity’ is the beginning of that,” said Joshua. “I know we’ve serviced many other people’s projects that have come here from the U.K., from the U.S. We’ve definitely got the crew, and we’ve got the equipment, and we’ve got the infrastructure.

“From where we stand, [‘Indemnity’] feels like South Africa’s – if not Africa’s – first real action film,” he added. “I feel like that’s something that we at Gambit Films are pioneering.”

Variety’s Guy Lodge singled out the “slickly made” thriller for its “bracing novelty” and “swagger,” and Joshua noted that the North American theatrical release of “Indemnity” is a huge vote of confidence in the production company he co-founded.

“The North American market, for this kind of film, is always your target,” he said. “To have it there, to have it distributed by Magnolia, who are the taste-makers for an independent film of this nature, makes us feel that we do have something and that people are going to enjoy it.”

The producer admitted it was a long journey to the big screen for the film, which follows an ex-firefighter in Cape Town who’s forced to fight for his life after being accused of murdering his wife. “It was difficult to convince people that we as Black South African filmmakers will actually be able to pull off an action film and be able to do it well enough that it becomes appealing to a broad audience,” he said.

While it took eight years for “Indemnity” to move from concept to principal photography, Joshua said that the film’s success is just the beginning for Gambit Films. “We demonstrated what we are capable of and what we can do. What we say is if we can do that with a small budget, if we are given even more resources, we can top that,” he said. “The ‘Revenge Trilogy’ feels like the next step.”

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