Hello, and welcome to International Insider, Deadline’s new weekly newsletter containing everything you need to know about the global film and television business, brought to you by our crack team in Europe. If you want to subscribe, sign up to our breaking news alerts here.
We’ll be in your inbox every Friday, delivering scoops, contextualizing the week’s news, ushering you towards stories you might have missed, spotlighting things you need to watch, and rustling up bonus gossip.
Here are the six things we want you to know this week:
1. The Force Is Strong With This One
John Boyega said it best: “Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting.”
London calling: The Star Wars actor was addressing demonstrators in Hyde Park amid global Black Lives Matter protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week. Disney called him a “hero.”
2. Britain’s Bullish Back To Work Strategy
While Hollywood dithers over its film and TV restart plans, momentum is quickening in the UK where there is now political firepower and industry-wide coronavirus safety guidelines anchoring the back to work strategy. Just ask the guys over at Mission Impossible 7, who used the publication of the British Film Commission protocols this week to announce that the Tom Cruise franchise will spring back into action again in September. “We are convinced we can do this,” said first assistant director Tommy Gormley.
Bullish Brits: Gormley’s optimism is symptomatic of the increasingly bullish mood among the British industry. Major studios are reopening, big entertainment shows such as Graham Norton are planning to ditch Zoom interviews, and dramas like Netflix hit Sex Education are setting goals for when they can crack open the clapperboards. There is, of course, a huge economic incentive to return to production after the pandemic put thousands of freelancers out of work. It’s no coincidence that workers’ union Bectu endorsed the BFC guidelines.
But but but: Britain’s record on tackling COVID-19 ranks among the worst in the world. The UK’s daily death rate is higher than the entire European Union put together, its track-and-trace system is in its infancy, progress on testing is being obfuscated by the government, and there remains around 2,000 new cases of the disease being recorded every single day. As one industry observer put it, the virus has not just magically disappeared because the economy is reopening.
And don’t forget insurance: The other major sticking point for indie producers is the absence of insurance cover for coronavirus. Trade body Pact did a straw poll of more than 200 members last week and 73% said they would not resume shoots without a safety net. Pact has submitted proposals to the government to create a multi-million-pound emergency insurance fund, which would underwrite the cost of productions closing in the event of a second lockdown. “Every call I have been on with ministers, this has been raised as the single biggest issue for economic recovery,” Pact boss John McVay tells us.
The bottom line: TV and film can’t wait a year for the world’s boffins to invent a scaleable vaccine, so optimism and pragmatism will be essential tools for producers. Production plans will be adapted to safety protocols, longer shoots will become standard, but the biggest determining factors in returning to anything resembling normality remain out of the industry’s control.
3. Yes We Cannes
Despite its cancellation due to coronavirus, the Cannes Film Festival revealed its Official Selection this week. Among the virtual highlights were Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, two new films from Steve McQueen, and Kate Winslet starrer Ammonite. The festival also revealed a record number of women directors and debuts.
The big surprise: The inclusion of Oscar-winner McQueen. There was us thinking McQueen was working on a BBC TV series (and Small Axe will debut on the BBC and Amazon in the UK and U.S.), but it turns out we’ll also have five feature films, each about race and the West Indian community in London. In a classy move, the director dedicated his two Cannes films to George Floyd and Black Lives Matter.
Look out for this: How different would the Cannes lineup have looked without coronavirus and what of this Cannes-Venice tie-up? Check back next week for our interview with Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux.
4. Best Of The Rest
Poland was the latest country to set a date for cinema re-openings, but as per most other nations, this isn’t a straightforward process. Multiplex owners in the country revealed to Deadline that they won’t open their doors until they are satisfied with conditions, and the film slate is an ongoing concern. All eyes are on Tenet, dated for July 15-17 in Europe, which could be cinema’s savior, if it holds. Tom Grater has the story.
And the biggest job in TV outside of America goes to… Tim Davie. The BBC Studios CEO was today named as the next director general of the BBC — but you already knew that was coming given we told you he was the hot favorite for the role back in early April. Congratulations to Tim.
The BAFTA TV Awards nominations are in, and it was a good year for diversity. After its disaster with the #BaftaSoWhite Film Awards earlier this year (which was called out by winner Joaquin Phoenix on stage), there are eight BAME nominees in the performance categories — a 167% rise on 2019. The ceremony will be hosted by Richard Ayoade on July 31 from a closed studio, but awards director Emma Baehr tells us that there will be guest presenters and nominees will be encouraged to participate virtually. Here are the big talking points from the nominations.
Going toe-to-toe with Netflix: With the global streaming war raging, local players remain a key factor. Starzplay is the biggest streamer in MENA and celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2020. In an exclusive interview, CEO Maaz Sheikh discusses how he is staying ahead of Netflix and how U.S. studio deals have been key to success. Go deeper here.
5. One To Watch
With the spotlight firmly on law enforcement and criminal justice in America, it’s worth noting that A&E’s excellent Accused: Guilty Or Innocent? goes global next week, launching on Crime+Investigation in the UK on June 9 at 10PM. Made by British indie Brinkworth Films, the eight-part series offers ringside seats to people accused of serious crimes from the point they are charged, to the denouement of their case in a court of law.
A shocking moment: The season opens with the story of Bryan Lawson, who is captured on CCTV shooting dead his wife in front of their child. It’s a gob-smacking moment that no amount of crime dramas can prepare you for, but it survives the edit because the episode is sensitively handled, and the stories are exclusively told in the words of the individuals involved.
Go deeper: Check out our interview with Accused‘s executive producer Malcolm Brinkworth. “Each case has got huge stakes for the individual, each case has got huge stakes for the lawyers, the defense, the prosecution. And you are there every step of the way,” he says.
6. Bonus Gossip: Sky Plants Trees
Sowing seeds: Sky Studios has shaken off the M&A downturn by taking minority stakes in two drama producers during the pandemic: Longboat Pictures and The Lighthouse. You might say the European pay-TV giant is sowing seeds that it hopes can grow into hits the size of Chernobyl, the Emmy-winning nuclear disaster drama that scooped a record-equalling haul of BAFTA TV nominations this week.
It’s not the first time Sky Studios CEO Gary Davey has got green-fingered: The Australian was among a number of top Sky executives who clubbed together last year to buy an unusual gift to mark CEO Jeremy Darroch’s 15-year anniversary at the company. What do you buy a man who can afford to donate nine months of his salary to coronavirus relief charities? Turns out it’s a tree.
Mighty oaks: The sapling marked Darroch’s insatiable appetite for growth, which ultimately led to Comcast’s mega-bucks takeover of Sky in 2018. And his colleagues couldn’t resist a more overt nod to his dynasty, quoting Sky’s slogan in a message accompanying the tree: “Thank you for always believing in better.”