Happy Friday readers. Tom Grater here looking back on the week’s top international headlines.
Mip TV Comes To An End
We got there eventually: The first Cannes-based Mip TV for three years took place earlier this week and, after some initial travel chaos that had the entire UK contingent scrabbling to reach Nice airport by Sunday night, things settled into a familiar pattern. In a sense, Mip TV felt like an extension of the previous fortnight’s Series Mania in that streamers and European talent were top of everyone’s talking-point lists. Delivering a keynote, HBO Max Global Boss Johannes Larcher talked up his streamer’s position in Europe, declaring “it’s not always best to be first.” Meanwhile, Candle Media Co-Founder Kevin Mayer, one of the founding fathers of Disney+, gave attendees a window into his strategy and Sony International Production Boss Wayne Garvie detailed grand ambitions to be “Britain’s biggest drama studio.”
Thin footfall: While positive vibes were always present on the Croisette, most sources agreed footfall felt a little thin on the ground. Mip TV came so soon after Series Mania and the ever-growing London Screenings, and the feeling was that many of the larger companies had slimmed down their usual delegation size. “This is a relationships market and a reset market, not a sales market,” said one senior distribution boss. Organizers said there were more than 5000 delegates from 80 countries, more than October’s larger Mipcom although that market had restricted access due to Coronavirus. One thing’s for certain, the industry is breathing cautious sighs of relief that this dreadful pandemic has moved into its next phase. Roll on next October.
Now read this: Although big sales packages were a rarity, Deadline broke the news of Banijay Rights picking up buzzy BBC formats The Drop and Extraordinary Portraits along with the formation of Anyway Content, a production outfit led by BAFTA-nominated director Oliver Parker and former Red Arrow Studios Boss James Baker that took a packed slate to Mip. Our new International TV Co-Editor Jesse Whittock got his account underway with this exclusive on a Leonard Cohen drama from Lilyhammer scribe Øystein Karlsen. Elsewhere, Max sat down with Masked Singer creator Wonwoo Park for an exclusive interview, during which Park tipped his format My Boyfriend is Better to be the next big U.S. hit and addressed the Masked Singer Rudy Giuliani controversy. Read here.
Channel 4 Sold
“Making the UK’s great TV industry worse”: In the biggest shake up to British broadcasting for decades, beloved alternative network Channel 4 is going to be sold by the government. News leaked Monday evening (did it really have to happen during Mip TV’s opening night party?) and before long the backlash had started. “Why do they want to make the UK’s great TV industry worse?,” Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci positively screamed on Twitter. Opponents’ ire is aimed mostly at the likely changes incoming to Channel 4’s remit, which could allow it to produce its own shows for the first time in 40 years and take away its drive to commission the hundreds of small production companies that have used the network’s shows as a bedrock to grow their businesses for decades.
What comes next?: Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon was quick to stress BAU at a town hall-style meeting for all staff, with the whole process set to take around two years. Rumored to be buying are ITV, Comcast, Paramount and Discovery, along with outside European bets such as Vivendi and Bertelsmann.
Warner Bros Discovery Goes Global
International relations: The magnitude of deals like Discovery’s acquisition of Warner Bros is both a thrill and gigantic headache for those folk invested in their outcome and, with David Zaslav’s top-tier Warner Bros Discovery executive team now confirmed, the structure of the international business is in the spotlight. JB Perrette is leaving the UK, where he oversaw streaming and international for Discovery, to return to the U.S. and lead Warner Bros Discovery Global Streaming and Interactive Entertainment, leaving WarnerMedia’s Gerhard Zeiler to become International President of the new look biz. Intriguingly, he reports into Zaslav on channels and brand matters, but will feedback to Perrette on streaming and international distributions.
Down the line: There are several other layers of this onion to peel – for example, will Zaslav and co look to streamline the sprawling Warner Bros and Discovery channels and content operations in Europe and Asia? Rumours abound that Discovery’s somewhat confusing regional hubs structure (CEEMEA, anyone?) will be simplified with a single leader for Europe. EMEA President & MD Kasia Kieli is well-liked at WarnerMedia and a decent bet for a bigger position, should one come up, while Priya Dogra, WarnerMedia’s EMEA and APAC Chief, is regarded as a strong operator. Much to come on this fast-moving story.
Optimism For 2022 Cannes Fest
Back to business: It’s been a bumpy few years for the film festival landscape, but the team behind Cannes Film Festival, still seen by many as the most prestigious fest in the world, are feeling good about the prospects for 2022. Last year’s edition was staged physically but remained dominated by the spectre of Covid, with roughly half of the 10,000 professional delegates attending virtually. This year the hope is for something much closer to business as normal.
Asia returns: This week, the fest told Deadline that it is forecasting only 10% of delegates to be virtual attendees, with the remainder traveling to France. Even in Asia, where the strictest Covid restrictions endure, there is a “palpable” appetite to be back in Cannes, according to the head of the Hong Kong International Film Festival. One country that will be visiting the fest for the first time is Mongolia, which is set to launch a new Film Commission. Read more.
Anticipated selection: All eyes have turned to the line-up announcement, which is scheduled to take place next Thursday (April 14). A small number of titles have already been announced, including Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, which the fest confirmed this week will debut on the Croisette.
The Big Interview
France’s oldest film company: Andreas sat down for a rare double interview with Sidonie Dumas and Christophe Riandee, chiefs at Lupin producer Gaumont, who discussed transforming the storied theatrical business into a major TV player in Europe and beyond.
‘A Hero’ ™
Controversy: Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi has found himself at the center of a legal battle, with a former student of his, Azadeh Masihzadeh, accusing the filmmaker of stealing the idea for A Hero from her documentary All Winners All Losers. Reports circulated this week that Farhadi had been found guilty, but in a statement his producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy said the case is not over. Read more.
Global ambitions: In the International Disruptors hot-seat this week was Romain Bessi, CEO of French group Newen Studios, who discussed the company’s plans. Read the full interview.
🌶️ Hot one of the week: Princess Diana’s brother Charles Spencer’s book To Catch a King is to be adapted by Philomena duo Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.
🌶️ Another one: A Killing Eve spin-off looking into the early life of MI6 spymaster Carolyn Mertens is in the works at BBC America and AMC Networks.
🌶️ Another one!: Netflix is in early-stage conversations with The Crown producer Left Bank over a prequel to the smash hit royal drama.
😞 RIP: The international showbiz world lost a few names this week: EastEnders star June Brown; Taiwanese actor Jimmy Wang Yu; and Lithuanian film director Mantas Kvedaravicius was killed Saturday in Ukraine.
🚚 On the move: Disney has hired its first casting executive in the UK.
🤝 Done deal: Newen-controlled Ringside Studios has closed its latest acquisition by taking a minority stake in UK company Joi Productions.
🤝 Done deal: Penélope Cruz and Spanish outfit The Mediapro Studio are teaming up to launch production label Moonlyon.
🎥 First look: Is it getting hot in here? Netflix has released a debut trailer for the 365 Days sequel.
Max Goldbart and Jesse Whittock contributed to this week’s International Insider.