This year’s Mip TV in Cannes is facing a major challenge as a slew of the largest international companies have shunned the April market and A-list buyers and producers have joined them.
The increasingly active London screenings in February have taken a noticeable chunk out of the market for the bi-annual Reed Midem-organized show, which is struggling to attract the volume, and quality of participants that attend its October equivalent Mipcom. The spring confab has always been quieter than the fall event but this year many of the big companies are treating it as a secondary sales market rather than the glitzy launch pad for their hot new shows.
Next week’s event will be without the full participation of Endemol Shine Group, BBC Studios and Fox Networks Group Content Distribution, while the beachside will be very quiet as Fremantle is sending less staff than usual and Disney and Sony Pictures Television have long shunned Cannes in April.
“It might finally be time to head to Barcelona,” one international distribution chief joked about the long-standing rumor of a move out of Cannes. However, a change of city will not help as the year-round commissioning and acquiring of programming, particularly premium scripted series, high-end documentaries and world travelling non-scripted formats has made the April market less and less relevant. It’s not close enough to the start of the year and it’s too close to the May screenings in LA, say a number of sellers.
Another distribution boss told me that they were only going to this year’s market for the sake of their own sales staff, as otherwise it would be “dispiriting” if the boss decided not to turn up.
Reed Midem highlights to a number of initiatives designed to help bring business to the South of France including a focus on emerging markets, production and development projects and the introduction of the Canneseries sideline, which has brought a number of drama figures to town such as Game Of Thrones star Dianna Rigg and Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight.
Laurine Garaude, Director of Reed Midem’s Television Division told Deadline that Mip TV is the second largest international TV tradeshow in the world after Mipcom and pointed to a major number of companies that remain on the exhibition floor.
She said that “as the TV industry evolves, so does the way companies use MIPTV”, highlighting the fact that while BBC Studios will not have its large spot on the top of the Palais, it has taken space in Reed Midem’s In Development section, which is aimed at production and discovering new projects.
“Our objective is to provide solutions that respond to what our clients are seeking to achieve in Cannes,” she added.
But it’s buyers that attract people to the market and without high-profile execs from many of the major markets, including few U.S. network execs or commissioners from global SVOD platforms, fewer producers and distributors are inclined to head to the Croisette.
This is not to say that there won’t still be a handful of Hollywood studios present at the market.
There will be a rather interesting battle between rival Catherine The Great titles. Paramount Television will be crowning Hulu’s The Great, the ten-part comedy drama starring Elle Fanning as Catherine The Great and Nicholas Hoult as her husband Peter from The Favourite’s Tony McNamara, while Comcast-owned Sky Vision is anointing Catherine The Great (left), a four-part epic drama from HBO and Sky Atlantic starring Helen Mirren.
Armando Nuñez, President and CEO of CBS Global Distribution Group, is receiving an award during the event and the company will be shopping titles such as Jordan Peele’s CBS All Access reboot of The Twilight Zone and Don Cheadle’s Showtime comedy Black Monday in addition to its staple of network dramas and comedies.
Warner Bros will also be looking to sail off with international format deals for a host of network entertainment series including Rob Lowe-hosted obstacle competition Mental Samurai, Mark Burnett and Mike Darnell’s James Corden-hosted World’s Best and athletic competition Million Dollar Mile.
Elsewhere, AMC Networks will be focusing on tainted blood scandal drama Unspeakable and supernatural horror thriller NOS4A2 and Alex Gibney-produced doc series Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America, while Lionsgate is taking out Will Packer’s soapy drama Ambitions starring Riverdale’s Robin Givens and John Simm-fronted Finnish political drama Cold Courage.
The latter is interesting as it marks a slight departure for an American studio, to distribute a foreign series, in this case for Scandinavian SVOD platform Viaplay.
Similarly, from Scandinavia is Norwegian police procedural For Life and Swedish political thriller The Inner Circle, both from DRG, Swedish financial thriller Blinded, from The Ping Pong King director Jens Jonsson and distributed by All3Media International. From France, Marseille producer Federation Entertainment is selling psychological thriller Torn, from Chile Fremantle is distributing crime thriller La Jauria from A Fantastic Woman producer Fabula TV, from Israel is Hot’s dark comedy Nehama about a man who becomes a stand-up comedian after losing his wife and job and from Germany is Beta Films’ period drama Bauhaus: A New Era.
Canada will be present through APC’s The Murders and Cineflix Right’s Coroner. The former is a police procedural starring Gotham’s Jessica Lucas as a rookie homicide detective. Lucas will be present in Cannes to promote the series. The latter stars Ballers’ Serinda Swan as a recently widowed coroner and is based on MR Hall’s best-selling book series.
Many of the keynote speakers are French; France Televisions’ Delphine Ernotte Cunci, TF1’s Gilles Hatchondo, Canal+’s Maxime Saada lead the line-up alongside a trio of execs from Banijay in Stephane Courbit, Marco Bassetti, Francois De Brugada. The latter are more likely to be pitching the company’s latest gameshow Catch than discussing their pursuit of Endemol Shine Group, but stranger things have happened in the Palais. There are a couple of more familiar faces to U.S. audiences; The L Word creator Ilene Chaiken, who has also worked on The Handmaid’s Tale and Empire will be in town to discuss the revamp of the Showtime series and AwesomnessTV bosses Rebecca Glashow and Shelley Zimmerman will be talking with Viacom international chief David Lynn about working with its new owner.
INTERNATIONAL SCRIPTED SERIES TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Tim Minchin’s Upright will be tinkling away in Cannes with Designated Survivor studio eOne hoping to tap into worldwide sales. The eight-part series is a piano-moving road-trip comedy drama for the UK’s Sky Atlantic and Australia’s Foxtel. It follows Robin Hood: Origins star Minchin as one of two misfits, thrown together by chance in the middle of the Australian desert, who forge the unlikeliest of bonds in their quest to get a precious piano from one side of the country to the other. Newcomer Milly Alcock also stars in the road-trip adventure. Minchin’s Flynn, hasn’t spoken to his family in years and he’s broke, distant and damaged. He’s also a gifted pianist, whose talent for music is matched only by his talent for self-destruction. When he learns that his mother has only days left to live, Lucky sets off in a hire car to drive the 4,000km to say goodbye. The Lingo Pictures-produced series was created by Chris Taylor, who is writing with Minchin, Kate Mulvany and Leon Ford. It will be directed by Matthew Saville with Minchin writing the music. Minchin said, “I like stories that make me laugh and think and cry, I adore the landscapes of outback Australia, and I love music, and homecomings, and characters full of flaws.”
Five Bedrooms (Sky Vision)
Australian drama is booming with a renewed attention by the international community on scripted projects from down under. Sky Vision, the distribution of the Comcast-owned pay-TV giant, is getting involved with Five Bedrooms, an eight-part series from Hoodlum Entertainment, the company behind ABC Studios International’s crime drama Harrow. The series, which was commissioned by Network Ten, is the story of five loosely connected friends at the singles table at a wedding who, after too many champagnes (and wines and whiskeys and beers) decide to pool together to get on the property ladder. There’s just one glaring problem: they’ll have to live with each other. Kat Stewart, Stephen Peacocke, Doris Younane, Katie Robertson, Roy Joseph, Kate Jenkinson and Hugh Sheridan. Hoodlum Entertainment’s Executive Producers Nathan Mayfield and Tracey Robertson call it a “labor of love” with a “loveable cast”, while Network Ten’s head of drama Rick Maier said it was a “brilliantly original, sharp and contemporary series”. “Writers Michael Lucas and Christine Bartlett have created a group of individuals we hope everyone can relate to. And it’s no surprise these scripts have been the draw-card for this outstanding ensemble,” he added.
My Life Is Murder (DCD Rights)
The police procedural is a staple of U.S. network schedules and the genre is becoming increasingly popular internationally with the boom in localized content. Lucy Lawless, best known for playing Xena: Warrior Princess and who has starred in Ash Vs Evil Dead and Top of the Lake, stars as complex investigator Alexa Crowe in this ten-part Australian drama. The show, which is produced by Go Back To Where You Came From indie CJZ Production for Network Ten, follows Lawless’ Crowe as she solves murders and combats the small frustrations of everyday life. Wentworth’s Bernard Curry and newcomer Ebony Vagulans also star in the series, which started filming in Melbourne in February. Nicky Davies Williams, CEO of DCD Rights, which is distributing internationally, told Deadline, “We have found this to be in demand from buyers looking for a lighter but still investigative alternative to the darker crime and drama on their slates. Lucy commands a strong fan base around the world, and as a ten-part drama that can adapt to many parts of the schedule this offers flexibility as well as a strong storyline hook to hold buyers through each episode.”
On Death Row (Studiocanal)
On Death Row, starring Narcos and Sense8 star Miguel Angel Silvestre, has a Night Of feel about it. A true crime drama that tells the story of a young man arrested for a minor theft who is fingered as a murderer, Silvestre plays Pablo Ibar, who insists he is innocent after police believe that he has been captured on video following the murder of three people in Miami. Although none of the evidence incriminates him, an insistent district attorney puts him on trial three times between 1994 and 2019. Created in Spanish and English, the four-part series is based on Nacho Carretero’s book En El Corredor De La Muerte and is being produced by Bambu Producciones, the company behind Gran Hotel, which is being adapted by Eva Longoria for ABC for Spanish pay-TV broadcaster Movistar+ and is being financed and distributed internationally by Vivendi-backed Studiocanal. Beatriz Campos, Head of International Sales for TV Series at Studiocanal, told Deadline, “The true crime genre is one that is currently booming and attracting audiences worldwide; this combined with the stunning production values, a prestigious cast and the strength of the story will no doubt capture international attention while staying loyal to its European roots.”
The Clink (Kew Media)
Drama is becoming more expensive to produce as the boom continues and A-list stars become increasingly comfortable appearing on the small screen. However, The Clink is an interesting example of a relatively low-cost scripted series as part of British broadcaster Channel 5’s drive to enter the genre on a budget. The series is set in BPS Bridewell, a fiction women’s prison, where many of the inmates come from dark and hopeless places but friendships form. It follows new governor Dominique Darby, who battles the board and the inmates and has another agenda involving one inmate who is oblivious to her attentions. The series is produced by LA Productions, the company behind Sean Bean-fronted BBC drama Broken, and is intended to appeal to a young adult audience. Airing later this year, The Clink is one of the first dramas to emerge from a three-year co-production deal between the Viacom-backed broadcaster and Leaving Neverland distributor Kew Media.
NON-SCRIPTED INTERNATIONAL FORMATS:
2025 (Keshet International)
2025, the Truman Show-meets-Monopoly reality competition, is one of the most interesting new formats to hit the international market in some time. It is now finally being offered to global buyers with Keshet International launching the show at Mip TV. The show, which had a rather secretive launch earlier this year, is being pitched to both traditional linear broadcasters and SVOD services as the Israeli hopes to set up a slew of foreign remakes. The series runs as a live daily prime-time strip on Keshet 12 four days a week with 16 contestants competing at the gates of a futuristic Westworld-style city on the outskirts of Yavne. The contestants keep or make as much money as possible in order to win the competition; they are not cut off from the real world but communication comes at a cost. “2025 is a game of social currency that is set in the near future in a city run by six humanoid hosts,” Keren Sharar, KI’s COO and President of Distribution, told Deadline. “This format could work well on any mainstream broadcast channel wanting to shake up its schedule with a show that not only fills a lot of real estate but also looks completely different because it features elements more familiar to popular films and binge-able dramas such as Westworld and Black Mirror. Which is also why it could also work well for any SVOD platform too.” The company is also opening up the multi-million-dollar set as an international production hub with international broadcasters and platforms able to film their own versions in Israel if they wish.
The Manipulator (Media Ranch)
Mip TV often feels like a week of psychological (and physical) manipulation, which bodes well for Danish factual entertainment format The Manipulator. The show follows hypnotherapist Jan Hellesøe as he leads mind-boggling experiments and manipulates his participants with magic over science, for instance, seeing if he can spot which of 60 high school students is lying. The show launched on Danish public broadcaster DR at the end of last year and has been scoring over half a million viewers per episode and securing a second season. It is one of a number of DR formats, including dating hypnotherapy format Hypnotize My Heart, which is also fronted by Hellesøe, that will be sold in Cannes by French-Canadian producer and distributor after the two companies closed an output deal. Media Ranch President Sophie Ferron told Deadline that she has high hopes for international remakes of the formats. “The Manipulator will have resonance around the world since it exposes how easily we are influenced, hoodwinked and exploited. The art of manipulation has been around since the dawn of time, but with social media and the 24-hour news cycle, the power of persuasion reaches the masses like never before – and so brazenly. This format and the way it shockingly exposes manipulation is more pertinent than ever,” she added.
Drag Lab (Hat Trick International)
RuPaul’s Drag Race has become one of the most fascinating non-scripted formats to travel around the world with adaptations in the UK, via the BBC, and Thailand. Next up in the genre is Drag Lab from fledgling British producer Summer Films for Channel 4. The format follows drag collective The Family Gorgeous as they help ordinary Brits transform themselves into drag-enhanced versions of themselves. Helped by members including Cheddar Gorgeous and Anna Phylactic, the group teach people how to dress, do their make up and deliver their own lip sync performance. The series is being distributed by Hat Trick International, which sells shows such as Derry Girls and Pop’s Flack and has a first-look deal with Summer Films. Executive Producer Lucy Hillman said, “At a time when Britain feels divided and uncertain about its future, what better tonic than the Family Gorgeous? Can tolerance, camaraderie and a generous splash of glitter be just what we all need?”
Beat The Rooms (Red Arrow Studios International / Nippon)
Nippon, the company behind Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank, has lined up its latest crazy Japanese non-scripted format. This time the company has teamed up with Germany’s Red Arrow Studios International with gameshow Beat The Rooms. The two companies have co-developed the format, which has been commissioned for Nippon’s main channel in Japan, with Nippon distributing in Asia and Red Arrow taking the rest of the world. The studio-based format challenges players not to do something, they must attempt not to breathe, not to get nervous or gall. In each episode, two teams try to beat rooms by overcoming physical or mental obstacles. They play against a countdown clock, which runs faster if they break the rules, and the players with the least time remaining are eliminated and sent crashing through a wall. Atsushi Sogo, President, International Business Development, Nippon TV said, “We always get many inquiries asking for crazy Japanese game shows, and we collaborated with Red Arrow Studios’ fantastic team of format experts to create a modern but still extremely funny and action-packed format.”
Therapy (Lineup Industries)
Imagine a real life In Treatment or The Sopranos scenes with Dr Melfi (minus the mob bosses). That’s what Belgian format Therapy does. The series, which is produced by Panenka, the company founded by Tom Lenaerts and Kato Maes, for Belgium’s VRT, allows viewers to witness the intimate discussions between therapists and their clients. The series, which launched as an eight part series in March, follows seven therapists, all highly regarded in their field, with three clients’ stories spanning over several months airing in each episode. Therapy is being sold internationally by Lineup Industries, the formats specialists set up by former Sony Pictures Television execs Ed Louwerse and Julian Curtis. The latter told Deadline that what set the format apart was the tone. “As a format what makes it stand out is that it manages to capture in an intimate but unobtrusive way a patients story but more that that it’s the story telling that shines through. There are also a lot of takeaways for the audience was we learn why therapists are asking the questions they ask and what the answers tell them about their patients, the also fears and their hopes for the client. These are universal themes that fascinate viewers around the world,” he added.