Happy Friday all, and welcome to International Insider, your weekly guide to everything that’s worth knowing in film and TV outside of America. Jake Kanter with you this week. Got feedback or a story? I’m on firstname.lastname@example.org or my DMs are open on Twitter. And sign up here to get this delivered to your inbox every Friday.
Early concerns clear: This week’s EFM kicked off amid drama behind-the-scenes, with rumblings from some buyers about kill fee clauses and streamer domination. However, the clouds moved off as buyers got down to business with a healthy slate of movies to choose from and a growing hope of widespread cinema re-openings later this year.
Buzzy business: Sellers we spoke to reported a solid level of transactions and an online platform that was more user-friendly than at other markets over the past 12 months. Some of the EFM panels felt a little too entry-level, however, especially those with the streamers. As usual, Deadline was first with the biggest packages, including Annette Bening swimmer biopic Nyad last night, and Allison Janney comedy The People We Hate At The Wedding earlier in the week. Deal-making will be going on for a good few days yet.
Big deals: Scoopster Andreas Wiseman sniffed the two biggest deals to go down in the past 10 days, both of which were struck by Netflix. First up was the streamer’s $18M pact for Liam Neeson action pic The Ice Road, which set a new record for a domestic-only EFM deal. The streamer wasn’t done, also splashing $15M for North and Latin American rights to Colin Firth WWII drama Operation Mincemeat, reuniting the Oscar-winning actor with King’s Speech producer See-Saw.
A kind kill fee: The latter was interesting because the film had previously sold to IDC for Lat Am at Cannes 2019 but we understand all parties reached an amicable arrangement and there was none of the rancor that has characterized some streamer ‘buy-back’ situations of late. “This is an example of how things can be handled properly with all parties treated with respect and happy with the outcome,” one person close to the deal told me. Elsewhere, we’ve heard positive noises about a number of packages, including Dev Patel’s directorial debut Monkey Man, A24’s Alex Garland drama Men, Christian Bale pic Pale Blue Eye, and Paul W S Anderson’s In The Lost Lands.
Reviews are in: In the festival, among the best-reviewed films of the week was Celina Sciamma’s drama Petite Maman, which also scored a deal with U.S. distributor Neon. The pact reunites the director and buyer after they collaborated on Golden Globe nominee Portrait Of A Lady On Fire in 2019. Deadline was on hand to review a number of the movies in what was a relatively low-key lineup. Check out our reviews here.
And the winner is... Radu Jude’s social satire about sex, lies, and videotape Bad Luck Banging Or Loony Porn scooped the Golden Bear on Friday. Nancy Tartaglione has the full winners.
All Eyes On Oprah
Drama queens: Simmering animosity between Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, and Buckingham Palace spilled over into all-out war this week ahead of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey on CBS. In short, there’s been more royal drama than you can stuff into a season of The Crown.
Mudslinging: Harry and Markle have apparently dished big time on what led them to break from the royal family and relocate to Califonia. Winfrey is promising “shocking” revelations from a conversation in which no subject is “off-limits.” In reply, royal courtiers briefed the Times Of London about explosive bullying allegations against Markle during her time at Kensington Palace — accusations Buckingham Palace said it will now investigate. CBS then released a clip from its interview, in which Markle bristles: “I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there is an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us.”
Rising heat: The temperature is unlikely to fall in the coming days, as CBS broadcasts Oprah with Meghan and Harry at 8PM on Sunday. It’s being beamed across the world too. ITV is rumored to have paid around £1 million ($1.4M) to air the interview in the UK on Monday night. And we revealed that ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group has closed deals to license the special in 70 territories.
A word of warning: Bombshell TV interviews are rarely an edifying spectacle for Britain’s monarchy. Prince Andrew’s disastrous sit-down with BBC Newsnight is still fresh in the memory. The Queen’s rumored favorite son attempted to clear up his association with Jeffrey Epstein, but it backfired spectacularly and ended with him stepping back from his royal duties. And who can forget Princess Diana’s infamous BBC Panorama interview in 1995? Diana uttered the immortal words that there were “three of us in this marriage.” It intensified media interest in her life, which ultimately contributed to her death two years later.
Festival Dominos Wobble, Will They Topple?
Cannes changes: My colleague Tom Grater had the scoop this week that the Cannes Marche is looking to host a “pre-screenings” event in late May or early June, one month prior to its revised July 6-17 dates. This decision has been made in response to pressure from the industry, which thinks the new slot for the Riviera event is too late for business to get done in time for the crucial summer months.
Complicated but crucial: With the industry cautiously optimistic that the vaccine rollout means a more positive period is ahead of us, how do film festivals fit into that picture? There’s no doubt that large-scale events involving delegates and audiences rubbing shoulders in small locales are not going to return overnight, but events such as Cannes remain crucial for the biz. On one hand, Cannes is being pressured by international sales agents, who want to launch their starry packages ahead of summer shoots and secure necessary financing. On the other, distributors in France want to see the festival titles in time to drum up buzz ahead of releases in the usually lucrative summer, when cinemas should be open again. Right now, the Palais is being used as a vaccination center, so the return of the fest feels a while off.
One domino topples: On the Euro festival calendar, another piece of the jigsaw shifted on Thursday, with Czech event Karlovy Vary postponing from July to August. The fest said delaying seven weeks gives it the best possible chance, and it also moves it away from Cannes’ new dates. It does, however, propel it right next to Venice, which is due to start on September 1.
BBC Three Is Back
Guess who’s back: The BBC confirmed on Tuesday what it has long teased: The restoration of BBC Three to television after it went dark in 2016. The channel will return to the linear world in January 2022, broadcasting from 7PM to 4AM every day, with a two-hour pre-watershed slot handed over to young adult viewers. Controller Fiona Campbell will have an £80M ($111M) budget to play with, which is £10M less than when the channel closed five years ago. Read our story here.
Why now: BBC Three’s move online has not been a failure. Since it has been unshackled from the schedule, it has given the world monster hits including Fleabag and Normal People. But, its absence from television has coincided with a looming existential crisis for the BBC, which has hemorrhaged young viewers to streamers, including Netflix and YouTube. BBC research has shown that young people are not abandoning the TV model (you need only look at the success of ITV2’s Love Island to see that) so it wants to give them a home they can call their own, and in turn, re-engage an audience that will be willing to pay for the BBC’s services when they are old enough.
Auntie’s mixed messages: The industry has broadly welcomed the BBC’s reverse ferret, which is not a great surprise given that many campaigned against the move, not least The Office producer Ash Atalla, who has been doing his darndest not to say “I told you so” during media appearances this week. But it has not gone unnoticed that BBC Three’s revival does represent a baffling bit of doublespeak from the broadcaster affectionately known as Auntie. At the same time as the BBC is espousing the power of television, it is also interviewing for positions in a restructured content team in which TV channel controllers are being scrapped in favor of a streaming-first commissioning model.
🍿 International box office: Warner Bros’ hybrid live-action/animated feature Tom & Jerry began offshore rollout in mid-February, scampering off with a further $19.4M from 33 markets. Nancy has the details.
🏆 Awards news: It was another Brit takeover at the Golden Globes on Sunday after UK talent and projects walked away with 40% of the prizes. Read up on the Brit-vasion here.
🏆 Awards news 2: BAFTA film nominations will be announced on March 9 at 2PM UK time. The Rising Star contenders were unveiled this week and include Kingsley Ben-Adir, Conrad Khan, Bukky Bakray, Ṣọpẹ́ Dirisu, and Morfydd Clark. Go deeper.
🚚 On the move: Kevin Mayer, whose long tenure at Disney culminated in the successful launch of Disney+, is joining international sports streaming outfit DAZN as chairman. Dade Hayes had the story.
📅 Diary date: We’ll get a good look at how UK commercial broadcaster ITV has weathered the Covid storm next Tuesday when it publishes its 2020 earnings.
🎦 Trailer dash: Here’s the exclusive first look at Derek Jacobi’s UK drama A Bird Flew In (previously known as Alone), which is backed by Goldfinch and filmed during lockdown. Watch now.
EFM eyebrow raisers: Most movie markets throw up their share of quirky prospects but this year’s EFM excelled itself. Perhaps surprisingly, one of the biggest-budget prospects (initially priced in the $100M range) is the Robbie Williams biopic Better Man from The Greatest Showman director Michael Gracey. We understand that pop star Williams will be portrayed by a CGI monkey in the film. “It’s bananas,” one buyer wise-cracked. Among other oddities on sale is Kiwi comedy Nude Tuesday, which is shot entirely in “gibberish” with two sets of subtitles. Say what?
Andreas Wiseman and Tom Grater contributed to this week’s International Insider.
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