Hello International Insiders. Tom Grater here delivering your weekly dose of the week’s biggest international headlines. To get this sent to your inbox every Friday, sign up here.
Paramount+ Heading To Europe
Strong quarter: ViacomCBS unveiled its Q2 results this week, painting a rosy streaming picture as the company added 6.5 million subscribers, taking its global digital footprint to 42 million subs. The chief driver of growth is Paramount+, and the studio is eyeing significant international expansion for its premium platform. During the presentation, the company revealed it had struck a deal with Comcast-owned Sky to launch Paramount+ in a roster of European territories, part of a wider multi-year international partnership between the two media giants. Look out for Paramount+ in the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria in 2022.
Bob Bakish: The ViacomCBS chief reaffirmed to Wall Street yesterday that his company favors a 45-day exclusive theatrical window, with a “fast follow” to a pay-1 window on Paramount+. “The situation is a bit fluid,” commented Bakish. “That is the overall direction we’d like to go over time. But we’ve got to look at each title in this pandemic and figure out what is the right strategy.” A Quiet Place II was the company’s first release in said model, grossing $100M domestically and $300M globally. “We like what we’re seeing,” the ViacomCBS CEO added.
Rich deal: Also unveiled during the presentation was a significant overall deal with South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The pact keeps the long-running series on Comedy Central through 2027, and also includes 14 original movies that will launch directly on Paramount+. The deal was pinned at a goliath $900M.
Sony Taking Flexible Theatrical Approach
Fluid strategies: Sony Pictures Entertainment also unveiled its Q2 results this week, which showed revenues on the rise but profits on the decline year-on-year. The company said that due to the ongoing pandemic uncertainty in regards to theatrical, it will take a flexible approach to releasing its slate for the rest of the year. On the agenda for theatrical is Venom: Let There Be Carnage, due to release in September, while other titles such as Cinderella have pivoted to streaming (Amazon in that case). Despite the ongoing challenges, Sony raised its full-year profit projections for the Pictures division by 8% to $825M as the company remained bullish.
Hollywood In Hertfordshire
Space race: A recent piece of research suggested the UK needs an additional 2.3 million sq ft of additional shooting space by 2033 to cater for the ever-increasing demand for production on Brit shores. The country may have found a portion of that, with California’s Sunset Studios set to build premises in sunny Hertfordshire, about 17 miles (27km) north of London. The $1BN project comes from institutional investment firm Blackstone and real estate company Hudson Pacific Properties, which own Sunset Studios. They have spent $120M on a 91-acre site and are planning a significant build that the companies said would create 4,500 permanent jobs. UK PM Boris Johnson was among those welcoming the development, calling it “excellent news for the UK’s film and TV industry”.
Venice Travel Dilemma For Brits
Making plans: UK visitors to the Venice Film Festival are facing a decision: either arrive early for the fest and see out a five-day quarantine, or curtail their trips after 120 hours, due to the travel restrictions presently in place in Italy. This week, Andreas spoke to a handful of delegates who are making plans that adhere to the rules, some of which are proving costly. There could yet be a last-minute alteration to the restrictions, with a fresh set of travel regulations due to be published by the Italian government on August 31, one day before the festival gets underway. Deadline knows journalists traveling from the UK who are limiting their trips to the first five days of the festival, but are looking to extend if the rules do change. Another journalist Deadline spoke to this week is insisting that a work-related exemption can be secured that avoids both quarantine and a time-limited trip, though neither the festival nor the Italian embassy in London has been able to confirm this.
No HFPA: One organization that won’t be on the Lido this year is the HFPA. The embattled U.S. association of foreign journalists has kyboshed plans to send members on a trip that was expected to cost tens of thousands of dollars, with the pandemic cited as the reason. One insider told Dominic that the trip would have been “a vacation by any other name”.
New player: The Australia/New Zealand distribution landscape got a bit busier this week, with a significant new outfit entering the market. Andreas had the scoop that former eOne Asia Pacific boss Troy Lum is officially opening Kismet, which kicks off with a slate featuring Palme d’Or winner Titane and Mamoru Hosoda’s Cannes animation Belle. The company has also inked a multi-year agreement with Sony Pictures for home ent and a multi-year Pay 1 deal with Foxtel. Also in Oz, Andreas was first with the news that Australian producer-distributor Arcadia has made two new hires and fleshed out its slate.
UK Streaming Boom
Changing habits: It has been widely acknowledged that the various lockdowns around the globe prompted a spike in streaming consumption last year. Proof arrived this week in the form of a report published by UK regulator Ofcom, which claimed that streaming viewership in the country doubled in 2020 to one hour and five minutes per day for the average person. Overall, subscriptions across the major platforms climbed 50% to 31 million during the same period. However, Ofcom’s Yih-Choung Teh warned that, with lockdowns easing, the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Disney faced a challenge to keep the content pipeline fresh to avoid drop-off. Go deeper.
Sarajevo In Focus
Backing regional talent: Deadline kicked off its first ever Festival In Focus section this week with a deep dive into the Sarajevo Film Festival. Diana spoke to the fest’s longtime industry head Jovan Marjanovic, who’s just been named co-director alongside founder Mirsad Purivatra, about how the event has emerged from humble beginnings to become a fixture on the international festival circuit. It’s been known to attract A-list talent ranging from Brad Pitt to Alexander Innaritu to Benicio Del Toro throughout the years. Born in the midst of the long and devastating siege on the capital during the Bosnian War, the festival became an important symbol of resistance for the local community. When screenings first began, “entrance was the cost of one cigarette,” Marjanovic said. This year’s edition takes place from August 13-20 and will see the fest launch its first TV awards, showcasing drama series from the former Yugoslavia region. Go deeper.
🌶️ Hot one of the week: Small Axe and Top Boy star Micheal Ward and Emma actor Bill Nighy are leading soccer drama The Beautiful Game for Netflix and Blueprint Pictures. Thea Sharrock (Me Before You) is directing the story of a group of English homeless footballers who compete in the Homeless World Cup.
🌶️ Another one: Aaron Diaz (Quantico) and Ana Brenda Contreras (Dynasty) have been set to star in Mexican crime thriller series Toda La Sangre, for Pantaya, Starzplay, Spiral International and Fremantle Mexico.
🍿 International box office: Jungle Cruise experienced a rocky launch, starting with $27.6M, well below its $40M projection. As Nancy explains, the film faced numerous pandemic-related challenges. The Suicide Squad however is looking to top its expected $40M international bow, buoyed by strong reviews.
💰 Done deal: Netflix has taken remaining worldwide territories including in the U.S. on Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut The Lost Daughter. Pic stars Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson. It will premiere at Venice next month.
🇬🇧 Festival update: This year’s BFI London Film Festival will open with the world premiere of The Harder They Fall. Idris Elba leads the cast of the all-star western pic.
🚚 On the move: WME has hired music agent Craig D’Souza as a Partner, based in the UK. D’Souza was previously at Primary Talent International for 11 years.
🎦 Trailer dash: Check out first footage from Together, Stephen Daldry’s lockdown comedy starring James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan. This week also saw Netflix unveil the trailer for the fifth and final season of Money Heist.
Comeback story: The biggest headline from the Tokyo Olympics this week was the return of U.S. gymnast Simone Biles. The decorated Olympian had missed her four previous events at the competition as she prioritized preserving her mental health in difficult circumstances. Biles has been suffering from the dreaded “twisties”, a gymnastics term that describes when a competitor is struggling to make safe landings, leaving them vulnerable to serious injury. Many had questioned whether we’d see Biles again at this Olympics, so her return on Tuesday to compete in the beam final was an unexpected good news story. The fact she completed a near flawless routine and won a bronze medal was the cherry on top of the cake.
Diana Lodderhose contributed to this week’s International Insider.
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