Philippines media powerhouse ABS-CBN is launching “The Bagman” action drama series as a remake of its own “Bagman” digital production and will launch it at Hong Kong’s FilMart next week.
The original “Bagman,” which ran to two seasons and sold to Netflix in The Philippines, follows 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.
That is a familiar story for ABS-CBN itself. The company was until 2020 The Philippines leading broadcaster. But it dared to criticize the policies of then president Rodrigo Duterte and found its TV licenses were not renewed. Since the loss of its TV broadcast operations, ABS-CBN has repositioned itself as a mass content company working as a producer with other producers and broadcasters and outputting news to its website, streaming service iWantTFC and YouTube channels. It also operates related businesses in talent management and events.
The new show makes a narrative leap from the end of “Bagman.” Convicted prisoner and former governor, Benjo Malaya, learns the tragic news about his missing family, he is left with no choice but to return to the vicious underworld that he turned his back on, and take on a new mission, this time, as a fixer for the sitting president of the Philippines to stop an impending and civil war.
The group pitches “The Bagman” as its tentpole international co-production for 2023, following previous success with predecessor series “Cattleya Killer,” which launched in 2022 at MIPCOM. It says that the eight-part show will be produced by Philippine-based companies – ABS-CBN International Production Division and Dreamscape Entertainment, Rein Entertainment, and Nathan Studios. It does not disclose any international partner companies.
“The Bagman” will star Arjo Atayde, reprising his Benjo Malaya character, a role that won for him the 2020 Asian Academy Creative Awards best actor prize.
“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.”