Afternoon Insiders, Max Goldbart here. Cannes is wrapping and we have the very latest from the Croisette, plus a hell of a lot more in this week’s deep dive. Read on.
Au Revoir, Cannes
Cautious optimism: Diana Lodderhose here, back with week two of our Cannes roundup. For most, this year’s festival will be remembered as a hopeful one, filled with optimism for the business in a post-pandemic world. In the run up to the event, a record number of packages were announced – most of which were broken here at Deadline – but deal-making is seemingly not as fast-paced as one might expect, suggesting some cautious optimism amongst buyers. Andreas Wiseman noted in his halfway temperature check of the festival that there are some record-asking prices being offered up for buyers this year, such as a German ask for Lionsgate’s Hunger Games prequel coming in at a whopping $30M. Deadline broke the first two big deals of the market: Netflix’s worldwide acquisition of Emily Blunt package Pain Hustlers and Apple’s pick up of Jessie Buckley-Riz Ahmed drama Fingernails. Tom Quinn’s Neon also nabbed rights to Ruben Östlund’s competition title Triangle Of Sadness.
Females FTW: Female filmmakers featured in the festival have proven to really standout in the line-up this year as Un Certain Regard title Aftersun (pictured), from first time director Charlotte Wells, and Marie Kreutzer’s Corsage were the two major titles courted by domestic buyers. Aftersun, which recent Deadline International Disruptor Carole Barton was shopping through her Charades banner, was snapped up by A24, while Corsage was picked up by IFC.
Playing politics: Politics continued to feature prominently with protests against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine staged at three red carpet events this week, kicking off with the premiere of George Miller’s Three Thousand Years Of Longing last Friday where a naked and screaming woman with colors of the Ukrainian flag painted on her body and the worlds ‘Stop Raping Us’ charged in front of the Palais. Protesters also came out in force on the red carpet premieres of feminist thriller Holy Spider and Ukrainian Un Certain Regard title Butterfly Vision. I spoke to the latter film’s director Maksym Nakonechnyi as well as director Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk and producer Aleksandra Kostina, the team behind Directors’ Fortnight entry Pamfir, about how they will use their voices in cinema to keep Ukraine on the map. Their touching experience can be read here.
Keep em’ coming: Meanwhile, the films kept playing on the Croisette and we kept reviewing them. Take a look at Pete Hammond and Todd McCarthy’s review of the best and worst films of the festival’s first week here. And while the main awards will be announced tomorrow during the festival’s main closing ceremony, sidebar Critics’ Week dished out awards on Wednesday, with the Grand Prize going to Andres Ramirez Pulido’s La Jauria. Nancy Tartaglione was there.
Kevin Spacey Charged
Grim reading: It’s been almost five years since actor Anthony Rapp alleged that Hollywood superstar Kevin Spacey had made sexual advances towards him at a party in 1986 (when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was 26). Fifteen more people came forward alleging similar abuse and, while Spacey has spent the last years attempting to resurrect his public image, this came crashing down Thursday when he was charged with four counts of sexual assault involving three men in the UK. Of the four, one charge sees the House of Cards star accused of “causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent.” The allegations make for grim reading and will likely spell the end for Spacey’s position in public life altogether. That carefully rebuilt image had seen him feature in two Cannes projects 1242 – Gateway to the West and Peter Five Eight, and the movie business now has questions to answer over the way in which the accused are let back into the fold. We await the next steps.
BBC Cuts (Again)
“Digital first”: Major change afoot with the BBC this week as Director General Tim Davie unveiled the “digital first” vision that will guide the corporation for the next five years. Davie and his team have been smart in trying to use the savings foisted on them by the UK government (around £280M [$353M] per year until 2027 due mainly to the annual license fee being frozen for the next five years) to bring the BBC into the future, as it gears up for yet another round of cuts. Linear channels like BBC Four and CBBC will eventually be done away with and more shows will be commissioned for iPlayer, with a target to have 75% of BBC viewers per week watching the VoD player, a figure that currently stands at less than 50%. Overall, 200 fewer hours of original shows will be commissioned per year and Davie was strong on cancelling shows swiftly that aren’t performing well enough. The BBC has long been accused of doing too much and spreading itself too thin and Davie is clearly trying to do away with this notion.
Morale question marks: But the impact on staffers’ morale is more difficult to measure. Another 1,000 people are set to be made redundant (1,200 have already been laid off since Davie took over 18 months ago) and Davie’s vague indication that money will be saved by “running the organisation better where we can” won’t exactly inspire confidence. Davie and the BBC Board are clearly walking a tricky tightrope and, in the first indication that they might have to come round to the government’s thinking, both Davie and Chair Richard Sharp indicated in a committee hearing Monday that they are “open minded” about the future of the license fee past 2027. A review into that funding method will start in a few weeks, working alongside the mid-term Charter Review, which started this week as Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries — who was lampooned this morning for a cringey TikTok ‘rap’ video — urged the corporation to do better with its working class representation. The pressure really is coming from all angles. More to come over the coming months.
Reiner On Russia
“I will have to live with this disappointment”: What do Rob Reiner, Mark Zuckerberg and John McCain have in common? Well, as of this week, they are no longer allowed in Russia, and yes, you read that right: former Republican Party nominee McCain was one of three deceased senators on a list of almost 1,000 Americans “permanently banned” from the nation from Monday, as the war in Ukraine moves into its fourth month. Speaking exclusively to Andreas, Spinal Tap filmmaker Reiner quipped that he is “heartbroken and will have to live with the disappointment.” The Kremlin’s decision-making appears to get more and more erratic as war wears on but in Ukraine many heroes remain. One such courageous group is the team behind Porn, I Love You, a comedy from Netflix’s Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom producer Den Tolmor that was the last to film pre-invasion, and is nearing post-production finality in a bomb shelter. Propagate is already taking the show out to U.S. buyers, with the hope it may benefit from FILM.UA’s $20M Ukraine Content Club.
“Wealth of talented new voices”: Saudi Arabia took another step towards Middle Eastern film production domination yesterday, launching its long-awaited 40% Film Saudi rebate at Cannes. Details are scarce but the move will in essence hand maximum 40% incentives to productions with local cast and behind-the-screen talent working in the region and “showcasing the diverse selection of landscapes in Saudi Arabia.” Concerns around the creative development of a nation with such a poor human rights record have been voiced many times but Saudi pushes on. Three Hollywood pics have been shot there in the last 18 months, including Roman Waugh’s Kandahar (pictured), and more will follow.
🌶️ Here’s a hot one: Saban Films has acquired U.S. rights to the Mel Gibson thriller On The Line, in which the Oscar winner portrays a radio host confronted by a hostile caller. Andreas had this one.
🌶️ Another one: Oscar-winning Parasite director Bong Joon-Ho’s next project, a sci-fi thriller based on Edward Ashton’s Micky7, has entered pre-production at Warner Bros Studios Leavesden.
🌶️ Getting hotter: Tim Roth has replaced Ian McShane as lead in Paramount+ Australia drama Last King of the Cross. McShane exits due to “health concerns.”
🏆 Awards latest: Canadian Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallée will be handed a major posthumous award at next month’s Banff World Media Festival Rockie Awards Gala.
🤝 Done deal: Germany’s M&A-hungry Leonine Studios acquired Berlin-based Gen Y/Z content creation outfit Hyperbole Median.
🏪 Setting up shop: Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment, Crazy Rich Asians producer SK Global, Jeff Sagansky and Florence Sloan launched global content company Jaya Entertainment. Nellie Andreeva brought the news.
🖊️ Signed up: I had the scoop on Google engineer-turned-YouTuber Jonathan Ma signing a major deal with Crazy Rich Asians-backer Peter Luo’s Stars Collective.
🍿Box office: Following its much-hyped Cannes showing, Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick has handed him his best ever global start, per Nancy and Anthony’s roundup
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