Hello, and welcome to International Insider, Jake Kanter here. In the week where the Premier League returned to our screens and Ian Holm sadly left them, here are the seven things we want you to know about the global film and TV business. If you want to subscribe, sign up here.
1. Cannes Hot Packages
Deadline has been breaking big news all week on the delights that will be unwrapped by buyers at the Cannes virtual market. We can’t offer croissants on the Croisette, but here are three of the hottest packages being shopped next week:
Breaking the internet: In a project that trended almost immediately after Mike Fleming dropped the news, Kristen Stewart is to play Princess Diana in Pablo Larraín-directed Spencer. The feature takes place over a three-day period in Sandringham, during which Diana decided her marriage to Prince Charles wasn’t working. Go deeper.
When slavery went viral: Training Day director Antoine Fuqua is taking his action feature credentials and applying them to slave-trade era story, Emancipation. Will Smith is attached to play a runaway who became a symbol of the brutality of slavery in America when a photo of his savagely whipped back, known as “the scourged back,” was published in 1863. Fuqua said it was the “first viral image” of slavery when he spoke to Mike about the project.
The ultimate ensemble? How’s this for a cast: Robert De Niro, Cate Blanchett, Donald Sutherland, Anne Hathaway and Oscar Isaac are all set for Armageddon Time, a period drama that James Gray will direct for RT Features. It’s billed as a big-hearted coming-of-age story that explores friendship and loyalty against the backdrop of an America poised to elect Ronald Reagan. Gray wants it to be the antithesis of Ad Astra.
2. Thierry Frémaux: Bullish After The Outbreak
The bad news: Sticking with Cannes, Deadline’s Andreas Wiseman sat down with festival chief Thierry Frémaux this week. Frémaux reflected on his event taking a whopping 80% hit to its revenue, as well as COVID-19’s “massive impact” on traditional cinema, which has seen theatres go dark for months and lit a fire under uncomfortable conversations about digital and theatrical releases.
Reasons to be cheerful: Overall, however, Frémaux struck a bullish tone. On the festival specifically, he promised to “come back stronger than ever” next year for a “dazzling” reunion, which immediately evokes images of sun-soaked red carpets, clinking glasses, and who knows, maybe even the odd la bise. And on cinema’s fortunes, he pictures a phoenix rising from the ashes: “Its uniqueness will emerge, that innate power it has that no other art form can rival.”
3. Scooplet: Channel 4 & Hulu Back For More ‘This Way Up’
Busy Bea: There have been whispers about this one for months, but it looks as if Britain’s Channel 4 and Hulu are close to teaming again to renew comedy This Way Up. Aisling Bea has been busy penning the second season during lockdown after a stellar period in which she has also starred in Netflix’s Living With Yourself with Paul Rudd and ITV/AMC’s Quiz. Here’s the full This Way Up story, while Bea’s co-star Tobias Menzies also talked about the show in a Deadline interview.
4. Counting Cards & Restart Costs
Playing their cards right: Deadline Zoomed with Oscar Isaac and Paul Schrader this week to get the lowdown on their new movie The Card Counter, which the pair revealed is heading back into production. There were plenty of nuggets in this one: Schrader talks about his weekly poker game with Paul Dano, and Isaac says he won’t make more Star Wars unless he needs a new house. Watch the full interview here.
Talking of production restarting: Another Isaac project, Dune, is heading to Hungary to film additional material this summer. The Denis Villeneuve sci-fi epic remains slated for December 18, Tom Grater reports.
Restart costs bite: We also revealed this week that Jurassic World: Dominion is set to be the first major studio movie to crack open the clapperboards in the UK. The restart won’t be cheap, however, with Universal splashing out $5M on coronavirus safety protocols. Andreas had the scoop.
5. ‘Sex Education’ Stars In Spotlight
Every cloud: The bad news is that the Sex Education Season 3 shoot is currently on hold amid a certain global pandemic, but the good news is that the hiatus has afforded us the opportunity to speak to two of its leading lights.
Freshly burnished with a BAFTA nomination, Ncuti Gatwa was featured in Deadline’s Next Generation TV series, reflecting on how twerking helped him land his role as Eric Effiong in the Netflix drama. Watch it here.
Formative influences: Gillian Anderson also perched in front of her webcam to answer five questions for another of Deadline’s video series: The Film That Lit My Fuse. She reveals how Meryl Streep has been a guiding inspiration and shares her thoughts on how the industry must respond to the Black Lives Matter movement. Go deeper.
6. One To Watch
Luminous lockdown tonic: After having its Series Mania world premiere derailed by coronavirus, The Luminaries finally lands in Europe on Sunday. The long-gestating adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s novel of the same name has been promoted from BBC Two to BBC One, and promises to transport viewers to the gold-rush frontiers of New Zealand, where young adventurer Anna Wetherell (Eve Hewson) becomes entangled in a web spun by Lydia Wells (Eva Green).
Western girls: One thing that struck me when watching the series opener, was how much The Luminaries feels like a Western. Although set thousands of miles away from America, the series features barroom brawls and rootin’-tootin’ gold diggers. At its center, however, are complex female leads played by Hewson and Green. “You’ve got the gold rush, but it’s also a world where men outnumber women and you have to be super strong as a woman — have a knife under your skirt and wish for the best,” Green told me. Read the interview here.
7. And finally…
Carrot and stick: As the race to restart production is fully underway in the UK, producers would do well to heed a lesson from those already shooting. ITV Studios’ continuing drama chief John Whiston has found that it is taking more than just warnings to keep cast and crew socially distanced on Coronation Street. “We’ve got people wielding two-meter sticks, somebody even has a telescopic stick that he whips out at times. Obviously, we’ve given them to people who always wanted to wield a stick,” he joked during a Royal Television Society event this week. The word is that Top Gear is using the same innovation — only with a boxing glove attached to the end for added clout.