Happy Friday readers and welcome to the latest edition of International Insider. Tom Grater here with a rundown of this week’s top international news.
That’s A Wrap
Unprecedented shoot: Universal and co wrapped their $165M blockbuster Jurassic World: Dominion this week; back in July the film became the first major studio production to resume shooting in the UK during the pandemic. My colleague Andreas Wiseman had an exclusive interview with director Colin Trevorrow and Universal chair Donna Langley in which they discussed the unprecedented shoot, which encompassed 40,000 COVID tests and millions of dollars spent on safety protocols.
Rocky road: Jurassic World resumed at UK facility Pinewood in mid-July and early reports of positive COVID tests were taken in stride, with affected crew kept away from set. The production was forced to scale back in Malta, however, after a number of COVID infections on the island. The film then had to pause for two weeks in October after positive coronavirus tests on the production.
2022 Release: Ultimately, the movie is in the can now, barring any reshoots. Uni already delayed the film a year to summer 2022, so they have plenty of time.
Toil And Trouble
Disrupted: Jurassic World wrapping is a positive moment for the biz but Netflix having to halt production on its Henry Cavill-starring The Witcher after four positive tests on Saturday (November 7) was a timely reminder of just how challenging production is right now. The project is shooting at Arborfield Studios, west of London, and Netflix said it would resume once it was confident the set was fully safe. It’s the second time the show has had to pause, previously actor Kristofer Hivju tested positive back in March.
AFM Projects Rock But Deals Non-Existent
Quiet on the sales front: There was no shortage of glitzy packages unveiled during the American Film Market this week, including the Scott Eastwood-starring Dangerous, the Olivia Colman-starring Joyride, the Miles Teller-fronted The Fence, and the Liam Neeson pic Retribution, all of which joined the party at the eleventh hour. So where are the deals? In fact, the only major distribution news emerging from this week’s market was that Lionsgate had backed out of Gerard Butler action movie The Plane, and the project was back on the market. Here’s hoping the deals begin to roll in over the coming days.
Lionsgate UK Scales Back
Cut backs: After the high-profile departures of Lionsgate UK & Europe CEO Zygi Kamasa and UK President Nicola Pearcey, who leaves at the end of the year, it was clear that the company, a stalwart of releasing and financing UK movies, was scaling back its operations on Brit shores. This week, Andreas had the scoop that it will shed 15-20 staff from its UK office as part of the cutbacks. The move is in keeping with streamlining at major film companies on both sides of the Atlantic, but the UK has been a challenging distribution market in recent years so this may not be entirely pandemic related. Lionsgate says it will continue to release movies in the UK, with Ammonite and The Father [pictured] on the slate.
ITV Revenues Dip But Ads Recovering
Positive signs: ITV’s revenues have taken a sharp tumble during the pandemic, and the company’s Q3 trading updated confirmed that, with revenues down 16% year-on-year for the nine months to September 30. There were positives to take out of the report, however. Ad revenue looks to be recovering after the lows of the summer, with October just 1% down on the same month in 2019. Chief exec Carolyn McCall also said ads in Q4 should be up on last year. ITV Studios revenue may have taken a big dip (19% down YoY), but 85% of ITV’s shows delayed by the pandemic are either back up and running or delivered, so things are looking up. Read more.
BBC Must “Rebuild Trust With Women”
Off the hook? An investigation into gender pay discrimination at the BBC cleared the public broadcaster this week of wrongdoing, though suggested it “make improvements to increase transparency and rebuild trust with women at the organization”. The verdict may sound like an absolution but the report noted more than 500 female employees at the BBC have been awarded raises since 2017 after making complaints. DG Tim Davie said the beeb must “work even harder” to implement the recommendations. Read more.
🌶️ Hot one of the week: Peaky Blinders scribe Steven Knight is teaming with Kudos to develop a new drama series set against the backdrop of the UK’s early 1980s Two Tone music scene.
🍿 International box office: Japanese pic Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train was the big story this week, grossing $200M in the country after 24 days.
🚚 On the move: Netflix hired ITN CEO Anna Mallett into a major international role; Troika pair Gary O’Sullivan and Ellie Martin-Sperry joined 42; while VFX stalwart DNEG appointed Paul Salvini as Global Chief Technology Officer.
🏆 Awards news: France put forward a shortlist of five films as its International Oscar candidates this week, including the Sundance award-winning Cuties.
📅 Diary date: The European Film Awards take place (virtually) from December 8; its nominations were unveiled this week.
🎦 Trailer dash: The social media community got its pitchforks out for the Irish accents in the Wild Mountain Thyme trailer this week, including for poor Jamie Dornan who is actually from Northern Ireland. Decide for yourself.