Broadcaster France Télévisions and indie prodco Clarke, Costelle & Co. are teaming to bring more of the colorized archive series Apocalypse (pictured) to history-hungry audiences, with Apocalypse Stalin the latest title to join the multi-million-dollar franchise.
Clarke, Costelle & Co., the Paris-based executive producers behind 2009′s Apocalypse: The Second World War and 2011′s Apocalypse: Hitler, are bringing their colorized archiving technique to two more projects examining 20th century conflict, Apocalypse: World War One and Apocalypse: Cold War.
France 2, which aired the predecessors and is on board for both upcoming Apocalypse docs, is betting on the continuation of the series because of the success of the first two iterations.
“The success of Apocalypse is amazing,” says Fabrice Puchault, the head of France 2′s documentary department. “[With] the first program, the average was 24% market share, and the second one, Apocalypse Hitler, was also 23% market share. I think it’s going to be a tremendous success.”
In addition, Puchault reveals that there is another documentary in the works, which presumably won’t require as much of the arduous colorization process – Apocalypse Stalin.
“The series will end in 1989 at the fall of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Wall,” he says. “You’ll have a total overview of a century of war.”
The budget for the forthcoming World War One and Cold War docs will be higher than the previous installments, with €4.8 million (USD $6.2 million) earmarked for the 4 x 52-minute World War One series.
Cold War, which was originally set for the first delivery, was delayed due to the difficulty in finding imagery from Eastern European archive companies, says Louis Vaudeville, CC&C’s executive producer on the series. At press time, the project did not have an airdate.
The research on Cold War began in 2010 and is ongoing, with CC&C having amassed 500 hours of archive material, while the research for World War One began at the beginning of 2011. Vaudeville says that archive for that project came from assorted international cinemathéques and footage companies, as well as from private collections.
The World War One series is currently in the first stages of editing for its 2014 air date on France 2, marking the 100th anniversary of the war’s beginning. Other international broadcasters haven’t officially signed on as partners at press time.
Part of the Apocalypse brand’s punch lies in the fact that CC&C goes to painstaking lengths to both find unique archive, and colorize the shots.
“Our broadcasters’ experience – France 2, NGCI, Channel 4, NHK, ARD - is that the archives in color bring back the large and young audience to historical documentaries, especially for primetime slots,” says Vaudeville. “Reality has always been in color and black and white is an amputation of information.”
“History is alive,” adds Puchault. “Let’s try to put it in color. For that, CC&C is amazing, researching with chemists and specialists to try to discover in the black and white film the traces of the real colors.
“When we don’t have those, we are researching the uniforms, the soil, the weather, the color of the tanks – whatever is possible to give the reality of these colors.”