Happy Friday International Inesiders, Tom Grater here with your weekly overview of our top international news. I’d also like to wish a warm welcome to Max Goldbart, who joined us this week as our new International TV Editor. To get this sent to your inbox every Friday, sign up here.
HBO Max’s Euro Ambitions
Across the pond: HBO Max is coming to Europe and don’t we now all know it. At the swankiest of swanky virtual events on Tuesday, a host of WarnerMedia’s top execs surrounded themselves with dragons, pet eagles and Sarah Jessica Parker to unveil more details of the long-awaited Europe push, although there was still no word on a UK launch date.
Where, when and how much?: HBO Max will launch in 27 European territories over the coming year, starting with the Nordics, Spain and Andorra later this month before moving to 14 Central and Eastern European territories, along with Portugal, in early 2022. Another seven countries later in the year will bring the global total to 67 as Warner targets 190 by 2026. Pricing was described as “attractive” by the folks at Warner, including a 12-months-for-the-price-of-8 offer to get those subs rolling. This would mean a cost of around $6.99 in territories such as Spain and Finland, significantly cheaper than rivals Netflix and Disney+.
What’s on the menu?: A host of big-budget content was teased by the Warner execs but one that set the internet immediately on fire was Game Of Thrones spin-off House Of The Dragon, which debuted some intense first footage during the event. Another of the most hotly (stress on hotly) anticipated is Sex And The City reboot And Just Like That…, which will be available from December. New teaser trailers for this month’s Succession season three and John Cena’s DC offering Peacemaker were on show, the latter of which debuts in January. While they wait for that, subs can chow down on Friends, The Sopranos or Raised by Wolves along with the biggest Warner Bros film titles such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Wonder Woman 1984. Subscribers will also be able to see the latest films just 45 days after they show in the cinema, echoing the current U.S. strategy and that of big players like Disney+.
Studios Go Big At CineEurope
Positive collaboration: International distribution execs from the Hollywood majors traveled to Barcelona this week to meet with European exhibitors and preview their coming slates at the annual CineEurope convention, taking place after being canceled in 2020 and this year delayed from its usual June perch. Optimism for the theatrical experience was high following a big weekend for MGM/Universal’s James Bond pic No Time To Die, the record-setting start of rollout for Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage and the continued strong play of Warner Bros/Legendary’s sci-fi epic Dune. There was a sentiment of gratitude with the studios thanking exhibition for sticking out the last 18 months amid so many stops and starts. Partnership was a key theme with a day one panel highlighting the relationship between exhibition and distribution and a need for more collaboration in terms of reaching consumers. Read more.
Hot content: In the wake of August’s CinemaCon in Las Vegas (which also took place outside of its usual dates), Warner Bros was one of the studios to show off some new product. That included a BTS look at Easter 2022 release Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore. Universal touted its broad lineup, and screened Illumination’s Sing 2 for attendees in a world first. Sony showed off Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Disney, which did not do a presentation, screened both animated pic Ron’s Gone Wrong and Ridley Scott’s period piece The Last Duel.
Cruise makes an appearance: The biggest reveal was reserved for the Paramount presentation. CineEurope is typically a very talent-heavy affair, but a significant turnout of stars this year was not expected. What a surprise then when Tom Cruise took to the stage in person in Barcelona, bringing exhibitors to their feet and introducing footage from Mission: Impossible 7 and Top Gun: Maverick — films that have cinema owners salivating. The indefatigable movie star who puts himself through rigorous training to perform death-defying stunts and bring the action as close as possible to global audiences told exhibitors, “We’re out here with you and for you and we’re never going to stop.”
Bond’s In Business
Beating projections: All eyes were trained on No Time To Die’s international box office performance this week – would it prove a boon to beleaguered exhibitors around the globe? The answer appears to have been a resounding ‘yes’. The film’s opening weekend topped estimates by reaching $121.3M, putting it in line with Skyfall and just shy of Spectre. As Nancy wrote in her report this week, “wow!”. Focus now shifts to the domestic bow. Anthony writes in his preview that the film is projected to take $150M globally this weekend, with $90M coming from the second international session plus $60M from the U.S. opening. More here.
Korea, Spain, Israel Enter Oscar Race
Getting in the mix: The International Oscar race got hot this week, with several major nations making their entries. Spain selected the Javier Bardem-starring The Good Boss, South Korea picked action flick Escape from Mogadishu, Canada went for migrant drama Drunken Birds, and Taiwan selected The Fall. France also drew up a three-strong shortlist of Titane, Happening and Bac Nord. Israel also entered the frame this week when its annual national film awards, the Ophir Awards, crowned Eran Kolirin’s Let It Be Morning as Best Film, meaning it automatically becomes the submission to the Academy. The pic had a great night at the ceremony, also taking the prizes for Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress and Supporting Actor. Back in 2007 Kolorin’s now-classic The Band’s Visit won the Ophir but was disqualified from the Oscar race for containing too much English dialogue.
Cut The Cord
Sky’s the limit: Pay-TV giant Sky unveiled its new tech this week, which is effectively a smart television, with no requirement for satellite dish, built specifically for our wireless world. Go deeper.
PSB Remit: Succession writer Lucy Prebble, His Dark Materials’ Jack Thorne and Peaky Blinders’ Steven Knight debated the UK government’s plan to force Public Service Broadcasters to produce ‘distinctive British content’ during a panel at London Film Festival this week. Prebble was particularly strong in her take, calling it “an empty gesture to a fictional audience”. Read our full write-up.
To the stars: Russia successfully launched a film crew into space this week ahead of filming the first feature outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. The endeavor sneaks in ahead of Tom Cruise and Elon Musk’s upcoming $200M action adventure with NASA and Space X. Read more.
Campaign: The subject of mental health has been taboo in the film and TV industry for far too long. A group of leading UK broadcasting figures are trying to change that through a year-long initiative with The Film & TV Charity.
🌶️ Hot one of the week: Bill Skarsgard, Samara Weaving and martial arts expert Yayan Ruhian are leading the cast of Boy Kills World, which comes from producers Sam Raimi and Roy Lee and is planning to shoot in South Africa.
🌶️ Another one: Homeland producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa are teaming with Starzplay and Sony Pictures Television on a high-end series about controversial Spanish king Juan Carlos I.
🌶️ Another one: Robert Carlyle is to reprise his role as the notorious Francis Begbie in a TV version of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting sequel The Blade Artist.
🎤 The interview: Irish production supremos Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe of Element Pictures reflected on the last decade in our latest International Disruptors feature.
🍿 International box office: It wasn’t all Bond at the box office this week. Our weekly column features updates on Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Dune and more.
🚚 On the move: Dutch/Belgian unscripted producer Vincent TV has launched a UK hub.
🏆 Awards circuit: The BAFTA TV Awards set its 2022 dates this week and unveiled some rule tweaks.
👀 Festival watch: Organizers of the Berlin Film Festival confirmed they are planning for a fully in-person event in 2022 after a Covid-impacted edition this year.
Max Goldbart and Nancy Tartaglione contributed to this week’s International Insider.
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