Idris Elba Debuts 22Summers Production Firm with Ex-BBC Exec Diene Petterle

Fresh talent joins forces in innovative media venture

by Zain ul Abedin
Idris Elba Debuts 22Summers Production Firm with Ex-BBC Exec Diene Petterle
© Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Idris Elba, the acclaimed actor known for his roles in "Hijack" and "Luther," has announced a new venture with Diene Petterle, a noted factual producer. Together, they are launching 22Summers, a production company set to focus on high-end documentaries with a cultural perspective initially.

This move marks a significant shift in their careers as they aim to bring diverse stories to the forefront. 22Summers is poised to make a substantial impact with its first project, "Erased: WWII Heroes of Color." This series, a co-production with October Films, will delve into the vital yet often overlooked contributions of soldiers of color during World War II.

Spanning four 60-minute episodes, the series will be available on Disney+, Hulu, and National Geographic, narrated and executive produced by Elba himself. It premiered on Disney+ today, June 10. The foundation of 22Summers incorporates Elba's previous endeavor, Green Door Pictures, and Petterle's Drumroll Films.

This merger aims to create a robust, full-service production house capable of managing projects from inception to delivery.

Key Team Additions

Jess Watts, who brings experience from Dorothy St. Pictures, where she developed notable projects like "Coleen Rooney: The Real Wagatha Story" and "Escaping Twin Flames Universe," is joining the team as Head of Development for Unscripted.

Before this venture, Petterle, a Global Creative Director of Non-Fiction at Pulse Films, brings a rich background from stints at Darlow Smithson and the BBC. Her portfolio includes award-winning productions like "In Cold Blood" and "Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now." In a statement to Deadline, Elba expressed excitement about the partnership, emphasizing their shared vision for uncovering hidden layers and emotional depths in their storytelling.

Petterle echoed this sentiment, praising Elba's integrity and enthusiasm for future collaborations. "Erased: WWII Heroes of Color" first debuted on National Geographic on June 3 and will continue to gain exposure with Elba speaking about the series at the Sheffield Documentary Festival on June 14, 2024.