Blink49 Studios Partners with Eleven to Co-Produce Series Based on the Popular Literary Thriller and UK Bestseller If We Were Villains

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Written by M.L. Rio, If We Were Villains has garnered critical praise from the New York Times Book Review, Kirkus, and Library Journal and ranks 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon

Toronto, ON – Sept. 27, 2022 – BLINK49 STUDIOS announced today it has partnered with Sex Education producer Eleven on a new series based on the novel written by M.L. Rio, If We Were Villains.

Set at an exclusive arts conservatory, the hauntingly suspenseful novel has received much critical praise and has risen to the top of readers’ lists since it published in 2017. New York Times Bestselling author Emily St. John Mandel called it “A rare and extraordinary novel,” and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney described it as “a richly layered story of love, friendship and obsession [that] will keep you riveted through its final, electrifying moments.” Available in fourteen languages, If We Were Villains has sold more than 180,000 copies worldwide in English, with a special fifth anniversary edition forthcoming in the UK.

If We Were Villains follows seven young Shakespearean actors at an elite college where competition is fierce, rivalry is dangerous, and the line between life and art is dangerously thin. When tragedy strikes in their final year and one of the seven turns up dead, the others face their greatest acting challenge yet: persuading the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

If We Were Villains will be co-produced by Blink49 Studios and Eleven. Executive Producers are Jamie Campbell and Co-Executive Producer Jennifer Pick of Eleven, Carolyn Newman and Virginia Rankin of Blink49 Studios, M.L. Rio, Tony-nominated producer Christopher Maring of CM Stage Productions, Andrew Williamson, Henrik Meyer, and Enuka Okuma.

Blink49 Studios is a content venture with FIFTH SEASON (formerly Endeavor Content) as its anchor investor and lead strategic partner. Focusing heavily on a creative-first approach, Blink49 Studios is dedicated to partnering with best-in-class writers, creators and producers, as well as actively pursuing IP in Canada and throughout the world. The indie studio is committed to applying significant resources to support new and diverse Canadian voices.

M.L. Rio is a recovering actor turned academic. She holds an MA in Shakespeare studies from King’s College London and Shakespeare’s Globe. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland and lives in Washington, D. C.  Rio is represented by Sugar23 and the Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency.

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Co-founded in 2021 by industry veterans CEO John Morayniss, Non-Executive Vice Chair Patrice Theroux, COO Jeff Lynas and CFO Nelson Kuo-Lee, Blink49 Studios is a full-service indie studio focused on the development, production, and monetization of premium scripted and unscripted content for a global market. Headquartered in Toronto with offices in Los Angeles, Blink49 Studios was formed in partnership with its anchor investor and lead strategic partner FIFTH SEASON (formerly Endeavor Content). With a combined experience of innovative deal-making and strong relationships in the creative community, Blink49 Studios takes a content-first approach by partnering with best-in-class writers, creators, producers, and talent as well as supporting new and diverse voices.


Jamie Campbell and Joel Wilson launched Eleven in 2006 to produce a range of high-quality drama series, comedies and documentaries.  The company’s credits include the award-winning series Sex Education for Netflix, which is now in its fourth season, The Enfield Haunting starring Timothy Spall, Matthew Macfadyen and Juliet Stevenson (Sky Living/A&E) and Glue (E4).  It is backed by Sony Pictures Televisional that has a majority stake investment in the company.

Since it was first released in January 2019, Sex Education, from writer and creator Laurie Nunn, has become a global success on Netflix. A Top 10 show in all key markets for the SVOD platform, the series generated more than 40m views in the first month alone.  It returned for an acclaimed second season in January 2020, and a third season in 2021.

Eleven is producing several new drama series including Ten Pound Poms for the BBC, Sony and Stan (Australia) starring Michelle Keegan, Warren Brown and Faye Marsay that follows British families who travel to Australia in 1956 to begin new lives under the Australian Government’s immigration scheme at the time.

Eleven has just seen Red Rose recently be broadcast BBC One and Three.  The young adult horror series, following a group of 16-year-olds who encounter a supernatural presence on social media, was produced for BBC/Netflix.  The company’s previous productions include Cast Offs (Channel 4), Gap Year (E4) and Candid Cameron (BBC Two).


FIFTH SEASON is a global leader in the creation, production, and distribution of feature films and premium television series. Known for producing and distributing award-winning content that engages audiences and moves culture, the studio’s film titles include the multi-Oscar-nominated THE LOST DAUGHTER from Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Bay’s AMBULANCE, Destin Daniel Cretton’s JUST MERCY, the BOOK CLUB franchise, and recent Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH. The studio produces premium TV series, including the 14 Emmy-nominated Severance, See and Truth Be Told for Apple TV+, Wolf Like Me for Peacock, Life & BethNine Perfect Strangers, and McCartney 3, 2, 1 for Hulu, Tokyo Vice for HBO Max, and Scenes From A Marriage for HBO. FIFTH SEASON also handles global distribution for dozens of hit series in addition to its own studio productions, including Killing Eve, The Morning ShowNormal People, and The Night Manager.

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Pam Wilson