Welcome back to Insider, Jesse Whittock guiding you through this time around. It’s been a week of excitement from the international TV industry in Cannes and another one of utter chaos at Downing Street in the UK. All the latest news and views follow, so let’s go.
Mipcom Back With A Bang
Cannes goods and co-pros: Though I was back in the UK this week, everyone else in the international TV business was in one place – the south of France in the Palais des Festivals. For the first time in three years, Mipcom (now Mipcom Cannes officially) was fully back – no hybrid market antics here. Organizer RX France claimed nearly 11,000 people made the trip. The annual attendance announcement used to be greeted with cynical chuckles from long-in-the-tooth journalists but the sense is that number seems about fair this year. Not a bad result for an industry that not too long ago was regularly discussing the death of physical sales markets. However, as Max noted from France in his market round-up yesterday, the pure sales swamp of the past is morphing into a co-production market more akin to a Berlinale, Series Mania or Connecta Fiction. The inclusion of a 1,000sqm Producers Hub is the physical encapsulation of that change. More here.
Delevingne on ‘Planet Sex’: The likes of Banijay, Fremantle, Amazon and Fox delivered well attended keynote speeches, though it was Thomas Dey of ACF Investment Bank revealing all about how Sweden’s Embracer Group bought the underlying rights to the Lord of the Rings empire that really got the WhatsApps flying and delegates gossiping – at least from a business point of view. However, the one that no one will forget in years to come was Only Murders in the Building and Suicide Squad star Cara Delevingne’s talk on her experiences filming BBC Three and Hulu doc series Planet Sex. She recalled attending masturbation seminars, porn libraries and getting a blood test during an orgasm. Mamma mia. It certainly piqued/got everyone hot under the collar, as distributor Fremantle walked away from the market with 92 sales under its belt.
Banijay’s big play: First blood of the market went to Max, who scooped the news Banijay has boughtChloe producer Mam Tor Productions, its first UK deal since acquiring Endemol Shine Group in 2020. Banijay execs called Mam Tor’s founder Tally Garner an “exceptional talent who has developed a brilliantly curated slate” and we can expect plenty from the producer’s slate. That wasn’t the only M&A of the week, of course, as BBC Studios bought out Killing Eve producer Sid Gentle Films, and chatter grew around consolidation in the distribution market, which has been buzzing after Banijay announced earlier this month it was buying Australia’s Beyond International. ITV Studios experienced an awkward moment when its press breakfast was interrupted by the news ITV is considering selling its production and sales arm to resurrect its share price, and Fremantle and Banijay were linked with a deal with Canada’s Cineflix but both are believed to be distancing themselves as of right now. However, my sources tell me this is a live one and we’ll be keeping a close eye on developments. For our full coverage of Mipcom Cannes, click here and read on.
UK Government Loses Truss
Will the next Prime Minister please stand up?: We could reserve a weekly spot in this column for the carnage that unfolds in the current UK government on virtually a daily basis. Yesterday, Liz Truss the entered the record books by announcing she was leaving office – marking the shortest run in history. Having replaced the deposed Boris Johnson, her tenure was certainly eventful but doomed from almost the start. She became PM just before Queen Elizabeth II passed away (Truss’ anointment was the monarch’s final public work, in fact) and then released a mini-budget that was roundly rejected by all ends of the political spectrum and saw the pound crash as banks and overseas investors distanced themselves from it. She attempted to backtrack, but the country had made up its mind and she resigned yesterday. A new leader contest is open – meaning Britain will soon have its third Prime Minister in four months. The Conservative Party’s rivals are demanding the chaos is ended with a general election but this isn’t realistically going to happen. The rumor is Johnson is planning to run again, and who knows where that will lead. Some light-hearted relief was found in a tabloid paper running a live-feed of a lettuce all week to see if it or Truss would last longer. The lettuce won. However, it’s been another damaging week for the UK and its international standing. Read Zac’s report on Truss’ exit here.
Be careful what you say: Elsewhere in British politics this week, Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy was suspended for a week after being caught on mic calling Tory MP Steve Baker a “c***.” The pair had engaged in a testy conversation about the chaos surrounding the Conservative’s leadership. Naughty, Krishnan. Nadine Dorries was also roasted, but by a committee of MPs who’ve been looking into her claims that a Channel 4 reality show she appeared on in 2010, Tower Block of Commons, had used actors rather than real people. With no evidence to back up her outlandish allegations and a refusal to correct herself on record, the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s special report was scathing, suggesting the long-time Channel 4 critic had, in effect, deliberately attempted to “traduce the reputation” of the broadcaster. Read more on Guru-Murthy here and Dorries here.
Vue’s ‘Glass Onion’ Play
Tim Richards peels back deal layers: Our International Box Officer Editor Nancy secured a great exclusive interview with Vue International Founder and CEO Tim Richards revealed how Vue struck unprecedented 30-day theatrical window deals for the UK, Germany and Italy with Netflix to show Daniel Craig whodunnit sequel Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery for 30 days before it jumps to the streamer. This followed years of discussions with Netflix, which has to this point steadfastly refused to play ball with exhibitors. Among the nuggets in the wide-ranging interview, Richards reveals he’s hoping Apple will be the next streamer to come round to the value of a theatrical window and that he’d like blockbuster TV like Game of Thrones shown on the big screen. Go much deeper.
‘The Crown’ Faces Backlash
‘Fictional’ account: It’s been a tough week for those behind The Crown, Netflix’s ultra-popular royal family drama. While anticipation built for season five’s November launch through a series of first-look images and a powerful trailer released yesterday, the series has been getting a pounding from several different angles. The season will be among The Crown’s most controversial to date, featuring the circumstances around the divorce of Prince Charles, now King Charles III, and Diana among other plotlines. However, Dame Judi Dench was among a number of public figures who slammed the show’s upcoming season in a blistering open letter, saying Netflix was portraying “an inaccurate and hurtful account of history.” Netflix responded by quietly adding a disclaimer noting the show is “fictional” to the latest trailer’s description – something it has resisted doing until now. Full coverage here.
In the doc: There’s also confusion around a Netflix doc on Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. On Monday, Baz broke the story that the program, which had unofficially been slated to launch in December soon after The Crown’s November 9 debut, had been pushed back after execs were rattled by backlash against the drama. Reports have since suggested the show won’t be delayed but nothing official is coming from Netflix right now.
Happy Birthday, Auntie
The BBC turned 100 years old this week, and we say happy birthday to the broadcaster known affectionally to (parts of) the British public as Auntie. The UK government, which has a fractious relationship with the BBC at the moment at best, changed its tone as Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan wished it well and pointed to its many successes over the decades. However, the fight for the BBC’s future hasn’t yet been fought and BBC bosses Tim Davie and Richard Sharp need to use all of their smarts if they’re to find the right tools to “guide the next 100 years.” More here. In the short term, they’re entitled to celebrate ten decades of broadcasting history.
🌶️ Hot One: Stranger Things star Dacre Montgomery cast opposite Vicky Krieps in ghost story Went Up the Hill. Another Andreas special.
🌶️ Another One: Lionsgate is funding and selling Irish-Belgian drama series Northern Lights, I reported Wednesday.
🌶️ Sure, One more: Max revealed The Handmaid’s Tale EP Matthew Hastings is working up a Spanish Civil War drama.
👀 First look: Olga Kurylenko in Bleiberg Entertainment’s Boudica, which wrapped shooting in the UK. Andreas on this one.
📹 Cast: Money Heist stars, Fernandos Soto and Cayo, are among those joining Vix+ Spanish-language series Travesuras de la Niña Mala.
🤝 Done deal: Blue Story producer Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor signs with CAA.
🌡️ Hot Spot: Diana had this report on Northern Ireland’s global production plans.