Good afternoon Insiders, Max Goldbart here following another busy week in our world. Read on for our dissection of the biggest headlines.
Market in flux: Andreas Wiseman and Zac Ntim here as The American Film Market (Nov 1-6) returns to Santa Monica as an in-person event next week after being forced online for two years due to the Covid pandemic. AFM has always been heavy on genre and brawn and is now as much about broader LA meetings as it is about concentrated deal-making, which happens throughout the year. There is a real sense of a market and an independent finance sector in flux as buyers and sellers recompute their businesses. Movies are being made and there is positivity about new ways of getting them made, and about most businesses diversifying their portfolios, but questions over the role and viability of a market like AFM remain. So far, big canvas or genuinely buzzy presale titles have been scarce. The hottest package yet is the Night of the Living Dead sequel (pictured), per Mike Fleming Junior, which has Nikyatu Jusu (Nanny) directing from a screenplay by LaToya Morgan. No cast or synopsis has been shared yet, but Village Roadshow Pictures has partnered with Chris Romero and the late George A. Romero’s Sanibel Films, Origin Story, Vertigo, and Westbrook Studios on the pic, which they hope will create a new franchise from the original 1968 classic. CAA Media Finance and Village Roadshow Pictures will co-rep U.S. with FilmNation handling international. Other hot titles heading to AFM include Pawel Pawlikowski’s next feature, The Island (working title), which is set to star Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara. Temple Hill Entertainment, producers of the box office hit Smile, are lining up new horror Clown In A Cornfield. Protagonist will launch worldwide sales on the project. And WME Independent is selling a Hilary Swank action-thriller titled Nar. There will be more announcements in coming days as the industry heads to Santa Monica, so follow along with Deadline’s coverage to find out who’s making the deals.
Regeneration nation: Doctor Who is heading to Disney+. In a long-anticipated announcement, the streamer joined forces with the BBC this week to unveil one of the biggest TV deals of recent history, and a major coup for Disney. Russell T Davies’ regenerated series will air outside the UK on the streamer and is a huge get for an SVoD that has been accruing subs in the millions since its 2020 launch, gaining on rivals Netflix and Prime Video and pulling ahead of newer entrants. Few deals have been this high-profile since the streaming wars began in earnest and Disney will be hoping Doctor Who will give it a boost in multiple regions. The show airs around the world on a variety of different platforms and BBC-branded global networks and having it in one place is also a boon for those millions of keen Whovians. The move is reflective of the changing nature of the show both on and off screen since Davies took the reins for a second time. One of the It’s a Sin creator’s first decisions was to reportedly demand that the show be co-produced with his long-time collaborator Jane Tranter’s His Dark Materials producer Bad Wolf, a move that multiple sources have indicated will lead to BBC Studios losing out financially. Since then, the popular Welsh showrunner has set about making a string of changes on screen, bringing in the first Black actor to play the Doctor, Ncuti Gatwa, and the first trans character to have a major role, Heartstoppers star Elle Finney. Our very own business guru Dade Hayes covered the unveiling of the Doctor Who Disney deal, which featured an emboldened Gatwa telling the audience: “My mouth gets paralyzed by the concept of playing this role.” With the conclusion of the previous season last Sunday and Jodie Whittaker bowing out, audiences were treated to a sneak peek of Gatwa’s 15th Doctor, who appeared briefly to state: “What the hell is going on here?.” Interested observers will be thinking similarly about the Disney+ mega deal. Elsewhere, David Tennant and Catherine Tate, who combined for Davies’ previous Doctor Who run, are back, appearing in last week’s episode and set for three specials next year. “I was worried it would be difficult to get in the groove again but it has been straightforward,”a delighted Tennant told the BBC’s Today.
Disney lights up London: A big year incoming for Disney, which turns 100 in 2023 and kicked off the celebrations early with a swanky do in London’s Banking Hall last night. Hosted by Emma Willis, the celebration featured a wealth of talent and execs promoting Disney shows old and new, with performances galore. The bubbles were flowing. Disney’s 100th Anniversary will kick off proper on January 27 next year across parks and resorts and the move comes at an interesting time for Disney+ internationally, as it moves towards launching 60 originals over two years. I spoke with EMEA content boss Diego Londono for our debut Mipcom magazine, who teased some of the strategy.
Pit Stop For Lewis Hamilton
New dawn: Deadline’s Andreas Wiseman revealed seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton’s new shingle this week, Dawn Apollo Films. The mega news from the Mercedes driver comes as the 37-year-old mulls what to do upon retirement, although he still has a two-year contract to run down. Dawn Apollo is very much ago and two projects are already being developed with Apple TV+: an untitled Formula One racing film from Top Gun: Maverick director Joe Kosinski, starring Brad Pitt; and a feature documentary on Hamilton’s own journey, during which he has famously broken barriers on and off the track. Apple TV+ already has deals in place with the likes of Malala Yousafzai and Idris Elba. Go deeper here to learn more about Lewis’s ambitions and discover the advice he received from Jeffrey Katzenberg and George Lucas.
‘House Of The Dragon’ Roars Across Europe
Toppling the throne: After some initial teething problems when the final episode leaked online, HBO’s House of the Dragon was crowned King of Europe this week following its highly-anticipated final episode premier, with Warner Bros. Discovery saying it had smashed the ratings record previously held by its predecessor’s final bow, also overcoming that show in Latin America, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan on an HBO streaming service. As ever, a pinch of salt is required, as WBD didn’t actually provide figures, but it feels that the George R.R. Martin remake is very much doing its thing around the world. In the U.S., each episode is averaging a mega 29M viewers, with streaming more than tripling overnight figures. Along with Amazon Prime Video rival Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, work on season two is well underway.
More lols please: Judging House of the Dragon against The Rings of Power is a tricky business due to the lack of data and context but their respective buyers are very much stressing they were bang for their buck. On the former, showrunner Ryan Condal this week teased what to expect from the second season, saying it will “hit the rhythms people came to expect from the middle run of Game of Thrones.” Speaking to The Times, Condal also discussed the toned-down presentation of sexual violence (“We tried to stay away from anything that felt superfluous in the telling of the story”) and promised more laughs in round two as writers seek to introduce “natural pathways into moments of levity.” Brace your funny bones.
Tim’s Turn To Talk
Illuminating Lumière: Melanie headed to Lyon’s Lumière Festival over the weekend and one talking point dominated above all else: the appearance of Beetlejuice legend Tim Burton, who spoke publicly not once but twice. The Batman, Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands and Alice In Wonderland director was feted with the prestigious Prix Lumiere and rewarded crowds with various insights into his wonderful career, including this pearl of wisdom concerning how he got to the top. “I was a strange phenomenon in a way. I had some kind of independence, basically because they didn’t understand what I was doing,” crowed the American filmmaker. He was also on hand to talk Beetlejuice 2 (“Nothing is out of the question” when it comes to his involvement), Michael Jackson, Johnny Depp and why Dumbo will likely be his last Disney film. Tim also weighed in on the dire straits of UK politics, joking that the current political chaos might prompt him to leave the country…
Ready For Rishi?
“Gleeful”: I can scarcely believe I’m writing this but having spent the first 16 years of my life living under two Prime Ministers, Britain now has its third in three months. Rishi Sunak, who just weeks ago lost out to Liz Truss, is now the country’s leader after beating Penny Mordaunt and seeing Boris Johnson’s dramatic last minute push fall at the final hurdle. Sunak inherits an incredibly messy situation and used his first public appearance after being coronated by King Charles III to call out the “mistakes” made by his predecessor, whose 44-day tenure is viewed by just about everybody nationwide as an absolute disaster. On the broadcasting side, BBC license fee review and Channel 4 privatization will be on the mind of some but have no doubt slipped down the government’s pecking order even further and I am hearing whisperings of hope from both camps that they may get their respective wishes. Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan retains her post within Sunak’s cabinet and it will be her job to scrutinize these issues. One for the anti-BBC brigade however was this question from news presenter Martine Croxall Sunday night, who asked “Am I allowed to be this gleeful?” following Johnson’s decision to pull out. Croxall has been taken off air while the BBC investigates for an impartiality breach, with Johnson loyalists hammering the BBC on Twitter with accusations of anti-Johnson bias. Croxall is the second high profile presenter who isn’t currently allowed to do their job, following in the footsteps of Channel 4 News’ Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who was slightly more explicit than Croxall when he called minister Steve Baker a “c***” thinking that his mic was off. Across the pond, a two-minute rant from departing Daily Show host Trevor Noah about the backlash to Sunak’s appointment was also making headlines, with former Tory Chancellor Sajid Javid calling it “simply wrong.”
🌶️ Hot One: Chris Pine’s directorial debut Poolman has landed with Signature Entertainment in the UK and Ireland.
🌶️ Another One: Apple TV+’s latest Brit comedy is insomniac show Still Up starring Antonia Thomas and Craig Roberts. Let’s hope this one’s a sleeper hit…
🌶️ Getting hotter: Jeff Fahey joined the cast of Salvadoran civil war drama Fireflies at El Mozote, according to this lovely scoop from Zac.
🎬 Slate: 18 shows were unveiled by Prime Video Nordics along with a multi-territory movie output deal as heads Karin Lindström and Andreas Hjertø told Jesse: “It’s not a streaming war, it’s a streaming party.”
🚪 Exiting: Well-liked Fremantle Global Entertainment boss Rob Clark, who is retiring after two decades with the firm.
🚪 More Exits: At DAZN, as the sports streamer continues to shift focus from London to Continental Europe and India.
👑 Crown controversy latest: Jonathan Pryce, who plays Prince Phillip in season five, told our Baz he was “bitterly disappointed” by “fellow artistes” who have attacked the Netflix drama.
💺 Chair: Leading UK agent Sara Putt will replace Krishnendu Majumdar when his BAFTA chair term elapses.
🍿 Box office: Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam rocked with a $143M global bow, per Nancy’s weekly digest.
🖊️ Signed up: Silverton Siege writer Sabelo ‘Subz’ Mgidi struck gold with Alta Global Media. Jesse with this one.
🎥 Trail: Dark creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese’s Netflix thriller 1899 draws ever nearer.
🖼️ First Look: Spencer Brown’s debut T.I.M (Technologically. Integrated. Manservant) unveiled these images.
Andreas Wiseman and Zac Ntim contributed to this week’s International Insider.