Happy Friday readers. Tom Grater checking in with your weekly dose of international news. Here are some Deadline headlines from the past seven days that you need to read. If you want to subscribe to get this alert in a timely fashion, sign up here.
1. Scoop: Coronavirus Sticks Knife In ‘Killing Eve’
Killer blow: Killing Eve has had to abandon its plans to film in August, my colleague Jake Kanter reveals. The show’s jigsaw puzzle-like European location shoot has proved too complicated at this point in the pandemic, and producer Sid Gentle Films is yet to set a restart date. Read the full story here.
Unsettling reminder: Killing Eve‘s quandary is a reminder that, even as swathes of shows start to come back online over the coming weeks, producers can’t solve every problem with a bible of safety protocols. Away from tightly controlled studios, location shoots will require even greater planning to keep not just cast and crew safe, but also the general public.
The new normal: Producer ingenuity will always find a way and International Insider is sure that Killing Eve will be back on its feet soon. The alternative is unthinkable. As Sky Studios said on a call with journalists of the Broadcasting Press Guild this week, it’s not just about restarts, it’s about “learning to live” with the virus through further spikes and ensuring further “catastrophic” shutdowns are avoided.
Rewriting the script: To make drama production pandemic-proof, Sky Studios boss Gary Davey said shows like A Discovery Of Witches and Britannia are literally being rewritten to provide producers with exit routes. “We have rethought the number of episodes and had a good look at the editorial to figure out that, if there were a crisis, is there a way of rounding the story up early?” He said. Go deeper.
2. ‘Tenet’, ‘Mulan’ Drop Off The Calendar
The waiting game: It’s been a tense period for international exhibitors. As they tentatively begin re-opening cinemas, fingers are firmly crossed for the prompt arrival of the big-ticket releases including Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which is being heralded as the shot in the arm the big-screen experience will need post-lockdown.
More delays: Bad news this week, then, when Warner Bros announced the movie is leaving its August 12 date and dropping off the release calendar for now, while Disney confirmed last night that Mulan would not be out next month and is similarly going undated. The House of Mouse also revealed a raft of changes to its releasing schedule over the coming years in a sign of how long-term this virus disruption is inevitably going to be.
Some hope? It may all sound ominous but the silver lining came in a quote from Warner chairman Toby Emmerich, who conceded for the first time that the studio may adopt an unconventional international-first strategy on Tenet, with the U.S. major hubs still embattled by the coronavirus. “We are not treating Tenet like a traditional global day-and-date release, and our upcoming marketing and distribution plans will reflect that,” he said. Later in the week, John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia parent AT&T, said that the movie would not be going to HBO Max before or concurrently with theaters. We are hearing now that a late-August or early-September bow in select international markets, followed by the U.S. release further down the line, is a distinct possibility. Warner is expected to confirm its plans shortly.
The next moves: All of which begs the question, where do cinemas go from here? The picture around the world is not all doom and gloom – South Korea has now had two pandemic-era releases cross 1M admissions (Peninsula and #Alive), and German exhibs are calling for a relaxation of distancing rules – but other key markets remain hesitant. The UK, where venues are gradually re-opening and indie distributors are doing their best to populate the film slate, faces a crunch next Friday (July 31) when the three key chains Odeon, Cineworld and Vue are scheduled to open doors at the majority of their venues. Our sources tell us they are likely to delay further if Warner doesn’t announce good news re Tenet promptly.
3. D-Day For Insurance
The clock is ticking: While there is a piecemeal procession of productions getting going again, producer trade body Pact reckons there’s also a backlog of UK shoots worth £1BN ($1.3BN) just waiting for government intervention on insurance. CEO John McVay tells us that if an emergency insurance fund is not unveiled in the next seven days, filming will be abandoned or moved overseas. Full story here.
What’s the hold-up? Well, no-one is pointing the finger of blame. McVay says he and powerful industry outriders have done all they can to lobby the government, while he stresses that ministers and officials have been working “intensively” to find a solution. The simple matter is, it’s a complex and unprecedented intervention that requires plenty of political capital and sign-off from the EU.
This affects everything: If you think the issue of insurance is dry as dust, think again. In stark terms, no insurance means: fewer jobs for stricken freelancers, more repeats on TV, fewer new films for desperate cinemas, and less opportunity to right diversity wrongs that have been brutally exposed by the Black Lives Matter movement.
4. Fests Gear Up
Stop and start: It has been a mixed week for festival-related news. On the bright side: Sarajevo, set to be the largest fest to take place in the pandemic-era, revealed its competition line-up. Toronto announced its opening film and more details about its digital offering. Venice revealed its lifetime achievement awards, and line-ups for Venice Days, Venice Critics’ Week, and Venice Classics.
The not so bright side: Hong Kong, due to start in just three weeks time, cancelled after a spike in infections in the city. A blip or a portent for what’s to come? We’ll soon find out.
5. Best Of The Rest
Box office gold: Want to know how the IP behind a hit Mexican comedy is turned into box office success in France? Or how an original German property becomes a Spanish-language sensation on the other side of the world? Read our interview with Globalgate, which oversees a network of producers and distributors around the world sharing intel on local properties that are ripe for remake. The company has had some remarkable successes to date, and as the business gets more global, its work is only just beginning.
Patience is a virtue: As The Crown has shown, the Queen will often make her guests wait before ringing a bell to receive them. Netflix will do the same by making fans wait until 2022 to see Imelda Staunton make her royal bow. Read more on The Crown‘s filming break.
Coronavirus hot-line: Warner Bros has a novel solution to keep cast and crew alive to the threat of Covid — the studio has created an anonymous reporting mechanism in Europe so people can alert senior managers if they witness colleagues breaking safety protocols. Full story.
Having the conversation: With the Black Lives Matter movement having successfully shaken up the status quo, the industry is adding an extra level of scrutiny to its decision making. This week, Dominic Cooke decided to step down from directing Get Up, Stand Up – The Bob Marley Musical, citing recent conversations about race as the reason for his reversal. Taking his place will be Clint Dyer. The move was heralded as a positive step.
6. One To Watch
Parasite’s back: If, like me, the heady days of Parasite storming the global box office before romping to Oscar glory seem like a lifetime ago, there’s a great opportunity in the UK this weekend to recall halcyon pre-pandemic times by revisiting Bong Joon Ho’s brilliant Korean drama about class divisions. The black-and-white re-release lends the film an extra quality I can’t quite put my finger on, but this is a movie that rewards rewatches no matter the colour palette. This version is now available in quite a few territories, Curzon is handling the UK release, which will be in a selection of cinemas as well as on Curzon Home Cinema.
7. And Finally…
The negotiator: How about this for the week’s most bizarre headline? Ukraine Hostages Released After President Agrees To Promote Joaquin Phoenix Movie. The movie in question, you might be surprised to hear, was 2005 documentary Earthlings, a critique of mankind’s use of animals as pets, food, clothing, entertainment and for scientific research, which Phoenix narrated. A 12-hour stand-off resulted in no fatalities, thankfully.
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