The story had a definite end with the death of one of the main protagonists. Therefore, the successful Vox TV series Club der roten Bänder will not continue. The makers around the TV channel and the distribution company Universum Film, also a subsidiary of Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, instead started the production of a prequel for movie theaters.
Director Felix Binder, the actors Tim Oliver Schultz and Luise Befort, cameraman Thomas Schinz (Crédit: Universum Film)
Leo’s death was the end. The end of the first and very successful in-house produced Vox TV series Club der roten Bänder (The Red Bracelets) about six seriously ill teens in a hospital. Inspired by the personal experiences of Spanish author Albert Espinosa, whose novel became an international bestseller, the German TV adaptation ran three seasons – two more than the Spanish original. But then the story was told, and the characters said their tearful goodbyes to Club der roten Bänder, as did the actors on the set and fans in front of their TV sets. Now, however, the popular characters will return – to movie theaters: The filming of a prequel of Club der roten Bänder started end of June 2018 in Cologne. In a contemplative, humorous, warm-hearted and authentic way, it tells the past history of Leo and his friends Jonas, Emma, Alex, Toni and Hugo which results in a wonderful friendship. This movie project is exemplary for the closer collaboration between TV channels, sales and distributor within Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland.
Albert Espinosa as well as the people responsible at Vox were strictly against a continuation of the story. “After the last episode, viewers will know why Club der roten Bänder is a trilogy and ends at precisely this point,” Espinosa emphasised in an interview. “So one reason to watch the season is in order to understand why it’s the last.”
Albert Espinosa (Crédit: Lluis Palomino)
Vox Managing Director Bernd Reichart had said: “The concept of the second season was already geared to a third and possibly final season. When we talked to Albert Espinosa about this, he was immediately enthusiastic because he himself would ideally have told the story as a trilogy in other countries as well. After our conversation, he wrote the short story. And when I read it to our cast members at a meeting, we were all convinced that stopping after three seasons was the right decision.”
Nothing has happened to change this decision. In the past months, however, people on social media repeatedly discussed the possibility of a movie until Universum Film officially confirmed its plans for a prequel movie. And now the time has come: Club der roten Bänder – Der Film, the current working title for the production, is being filmed; actors Tim Oliver Schultz, Luise Befort, Nick Julius Schuck, Damian Hardung, Ivo Kortlang and Timur Bartels have come together in Cologne on the set once again. According to Universum Film, Rouven Israel and Jürgen Vogel are also cast for the movie. Felix Binder is the director, Arne Nolting and Jan Martin Scharf wrote the screenplay. As was the case for the TV series, Bantry Bay Productions is responsible for the production – in co-production with Universum Film and Vox. The film is sponsored by the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, FFA and DFFF. The movie will premiere at cinemas on 14 February 2019, and Universum Film will be responsible for its distribution.
Hauke Bartel, Head of Fiction at Vox, said in an interview with the industry service Mediabiz.de that it was impossible for Vox to imagine cooperating in a movie project with Club der roten Bänder a few years ago.
“For us, it was clear with the beginning of season three that we wanted to tell the end of this story this season and that the main protagonist would die.” Therefore, the purpose is not to transport the Club der roten Bänder brand to movie theaters as “an end in itself.” When the authors developed the idea to tell the prequel, however, the idea was thoroughly examined. “And after numerous conversations, including with Albert Espinosa, whose story serves as the basis for Club der roten Bänder, we increasingly realised the big story slumbering in the material, and it deserves to be told on the big screen,” Hauke Bartel said. In this context, he explicitly points out the importance of having partners within the company that enable the realisation of such a project.
Hauke Bartel(Crédit: MG RTL D/Marina Weigl)
The responsible parties once again turned to Albert Espinosa for the prequel of Club der roten Bänder, according to Hauke Bartel, who confirmed that there was a close exchange. It was clear that the movie “would not come about without his blessings and input.” The Vox manager added: “It was therefore even nicer to see that this prequel idea sparked a fire in him.” All of the parties involved agree that cooperation in the movie production segment will be intensified in the future; several other projects have already been envisioned.