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Filmart: The Philippines’ ABS-CBN Launches High-End Crime Series ‘The Bagman’

The Hollywood Reporter 3/10/2023 Patrick Brzeski
© Provided by The Hollywood Reporter

The Philippines’ former broadcasting heavyweight turned content producer ABS-CBN has set up a high-end TV spinoff of its popular digital series Bagman. Filipino actor Arjo Atayde will reprise his lead role from the original Bagman show, which ran two seasons beginning in 2019 and was picked up by Netflix.

The new series, titled The Bagman and running eight hourlong episodes, will be co-produced by ABS-CBN and other leading Filipino studios, including Dreamscape Entertainment, Rein Entertainment and Nathan Studios Inc. The show will be ABS-CBN’s tentpole offering to international buyers at the Filmart content market in Hong Kong, which kicks off Monday (March 13).

The original Bagman told the story of Benjo Malaya, a neighborhood barber who lands a job as the governor’s henchman and gets caught up in a dangerous web of crime, corruption and political turmoil. The new series returns to Malaya, now a former governor convicted of past crimes who has vowed to turn his back on the underworld. But when he learns tragic news about his family having gone missing, he is left with no choice but to return to the vicious criminal world to take on a new mission — this time as a fixer for the sitting president of the Philippines to stop an impending civil war.

Political corruption and power politics are never far away in the contemporary Philippines, a reality that ABS-CBN has experienced firsthand. The company was once the country’s leading broadcaster, but after its outlets criticized the policies of former strongman Rodrigo Duterte, its TV licenses went conspicuously unrenewed. The company has since pivoted as a quality film and TV content producer, while also operating a news site, streaming service iWantTFC and various popular YouTube channels. Along with the original Bagman sale to Netflix, the company had some international success last year with series Cattleya Killer, which launched at MIPCOM.

“Having had the privilege of being the first Filipino company to screen a series at MIPCOM, we are honored to be following up on the success of Cattleya Killer with our new premium drama series The Bagman,” said Ruel S. Bayani, head of ABS-CBN’s international production division. “We continue to advocate Filipino representation in a manner that is engaging and entertaining in today’s global marketplace. I have no doubt The Bagman, packed with action, suspense, and dark humor, will have audiences around the world on the edge of their seats.”

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