International Insider: Tales From Zurich; Netflix EMEA Restructures; RTS Competition Fierce; Mahsa Amini Protests


Good afternoon Insiders, Max Goldbart here. Our crack team of reporters and editors brought you the news from Zurich to Singapore to London this week, and I’m here to help you digest. Read away.

Tales From Zurich

Marquee attendees: Diana Lodderhose reporting from the Zurich Film Festival where the indie film confab Zurich Summit, the marquee industry event, took place last Saturday and saw more than 100 of the film industry’s top execs take part in an all-day session that drilled down into the state of the industry. Attendees included the likes of former Lionsgate film chief Patrick Wachsberger, Sony Pictures Classics co-head Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, Killer Films’ Christine Vachon, Neon CEO Tom Quinn, CAA Media Finance co-head Roeg Sutherland and Le Grisbi Production founder and president John Lesher.

‘Coda’, Oscars and youth: And there was plenty going on. Wachsberger, who was a producer on Oscar-winning film CODA, spoke at length about the challenges he faced when financing the project and why he ultimately sold the film to Apple TV+ during a discussion about financing indie films in the age of streamers, while Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Helen Hoehne, whose company recently announced the return of the Golden Globe awards to primetime TV, teased an “exciting” host for this year’s 80th edition. Meanwhile, Anonymous Content’s Robert Walak urged delegates to “listen to the younger people on your staff” in order to future-proof the independent film business in an era of rapid change.

Gamechangers: Elsewhere in Zurich, SPC heads Barker and Bernard were feted with the fest’s Game Changer award and they both spoke at length about their careers and the state of the specialty film world in a panel moderated by Sutherland. That trio came into Deadline’s Zurich Summit Studio to talk more about the strength of theatrical and highlight some of their favorite Oscar moments. You can watch that video here as well as many more from our flagship studio at the Summit, where we spoke to the likes of Quinn, CAA’s Sarah Schweitzman, Library Pictures’ David Taghioff and European Film Academy CEO Matthijs Wouter Knol. 

Netflix EMEA Restructures

David Kosse and Netflix (Credit: Netflix)

Counting the Kosse: Agenda-setting scoop from our very own Nancy Tartaglione this week, who bought news of the departure of Netflix VP International Film David Kosse after three years. With that comes a major restructure, which will likely see content categories (film and television) come together under one EMEA content lead, Larry Tanz, while Teresa Moneo leads International Film and will report to Head of Global Film Scott Stuber. Momentum Pictures and Universal Pictures International Founder Kosse has built a solid reputation during a tenure that has seen Netflix’s EMEA output grow vastly, bringing the likes of Paolo Sorrentino, Baltasar Kormakur, Romain Gavras, Edward Berger, Matthias Schweighofer, J.A. Bayona, Louis Leterrier, Dany Boon and more into the Netflix fold, and he told Nancy he is thinking of setting up a shingle.

Tanz you very much: Kosse’s exit is a big loss for the streamer’s EMEA offering, which has mostly remained insulated from the hundreds of layoffs that hit the U.S. following a disastrous fall in subs earlier this year. I coincidentally sat down with Larry Tanz last week and published my interview on the day of Kosse’s departure, and Tanz was bullish about keeping the ship steady in the wake of the subscriber teething problems. “Not only has this not caused a change in direction but we’ve instead continued growing investment, stood by commitments we had and helped crew and talent during the downturn,” he told me. His comments contrasted with Head of Global TV Bela Bajaria’s in June, who could only say that Netflix’s annual content spend will move “in parallel” with subs growth when pressed by Deadline. With his role now likely to be widened, all eyes are trained on what Larry does next.

Competition Fierce At RTS

Big beasts have their say: I headed down to the annual RTS London event this week, featuring all the biggest players from the world of British TV… and Baz Luhrmann (pictured above with Warner Bros. Discovery EMEA boss Priya Dogra). While speakers including WBD’s Gerhard Zeiler, the BBC’s Tim Davie and Channel 4’s Alex Mahon discussed a wealth of different topics, one issue kept coming back up: the competition for eyeballs. Each discussed how their shows and platforms can best cut through the noise and attract viewers in a world where new streaming services have led to an overwhelming proliferation of choice. Zeiler’s hotly-anticipated talk probably generated the most headlines and he very much stuck to David Zaslav’s WBD line by talking up the merits of developing mega tentpole franchises alongside local content. So it was left to Sky’s Stephen van Rooyen to be most stark on the overwhelming competition matter: “Everything is all over the place,” he told a panel alongside Disney+, Paramount and Google execs. “It’s nice to believe that you can monopolize whatever service you have to the fullness of [audience’s] time but the reality is you just can’t do that.” The glass was certainly half empty for Stephen. It was fuller for the BBC factual team, who used an event a day after RTS to unveil a “best of British” weighty factual slate designed to take on the competition and bring those eyeballs back, featuring Louis Theroux, Stormzy, Virgil Abloh and a dinosaur graveyard.

Reflecting: Also of note was Davie, Mahon and ITV CEO Carolyn McCall’s reflections on their coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s mourning period, with Davie, who chaired a working group featuring senior broadcasting bosses, talking of “enormous decisions” that had to be made, and Mahon, who greenlit Gogglebox’s controversial return to the schedules just a day after the Queen’s death, speaking of “complex choices.” For McCall, focus was almost solely on defending the behavior of This Morning hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, who brewed up a tabloid storm when they were (incorrectly) caught skipping the queue for the Queen’s lying-in-state. As more time passes, the nation may appreciate how difficult running a national broadcaster can be at a time of crisis. “We knew we had to do this right and that it was about flawless rehearsal,” Davie considered. Catch up with all the coverage here.

Starzplay No More

Another week, another plus: There have been a fair few swanky London streamer launches this year and this week was no exception. Lionsgate streamer Starzplay rebranded to Lionsgate+ (it remains Starz in the U.S. and Canada) and unveiled major talent at the capital’s Freemason’s Hall, on the same day that Lionsgate said it is considering spinning off its studio instead of the streamer in what was a major Wall Street play. Certainly one to watch. The rebrand has been driven by Lionsgate’s outside-U.S. brand recognition, according to Starz President of International Networks Superna Kalle, who was on hand to present the likes of Sharon Horgan, Paloma Faith and Step Up 3 star Christina Milian, each of whom either stars in or has created a show for the platform. Dancing, themed cocktails and takeaway candles followed, as yet another streaming service set out its stall this side of the pond.

Hollywood Gets Behind Mahsa Amini Protests

Film & TV speak out: The film and TV world joined worldwide protests this week decrying the death in Iran of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of morality police on charges of not wearing her hijab in accordance with the country’s strict religion-based laws. Holy Spider director Ali Abbasi and actress Zar Amir Abrahimi, who won the Cannes Best Actress award for her role in the serial killer thriller, as well as filmmakers Bahman Ghobadi and Shirin Neshat, were among the signatories of an open letter penned by top Iranian cinema professionals calling for protest support. Speaking at Zurich, where he has been President of the Jury for the past week, Oscar-winning director Asgar Farhadi posted a video on his Instagram account calling for “solidarity”.  This was an unusual move for a man who until now has moved freely in and out of Iran, and rarely comments openly about the political situation. International filmmakers have also joined the campaign, with Angelina Jolie posting for greater freedom for women in Iran. A number of high-profile figures in the country’s entertainment and sporting worlds, who have stayed silent in the past, have also courageously and openly joined in a move that comes at great personal risk. Notably, popular, award-winning actress Fatameh Motamed-Ayra defiantly took off her hijab at the high-profile funeral of actor Amin Tarokh this week, as she gave a eulogy in his honor. The Iranian authorities are threatening to punish “celebrities” who have shown support for the protests and there were reports of multiple arrests coming in on Friday. Deadline will be following future developments.

Three APOStles

Kelly Day, Amazon Prime Video Vice President, International

Asian expansion: We’ve written plenty about the streamers push into Asia over the past months and those deep-pocketed SVoDs were laying down their flags this week at the APOS 2022 event in Singapore. First up was Kelly Day, Amazon Prime Video’s international chief, who was keen to talk about India and Japan but as interested in growing territories such as Southeast Asia. The streamer has a new team in Singapore and Kelly talked up various local versions of big formats such as The Bachelorette and The Masked Singer. Later, Netflix East Asia Content Chief Minyoung Kim was on hand to once again dwell on the success of Squid Game and wax lyrical about partnership-building in Thailand and Indonesia, the next frontiers as Netflix pushes further into the booming markets. Plenty more to come from this region as the LA giants look beyond the U.S. for a path to sustainable subscriber growth.

Masters of destiny: Asia has also become a battleground for sports rights and our third apostle was Premier League CEO Richard Masters, whose appearance was timely. The slick overseer of one of the world’s most lucrative sporting leagues interestingly teed up the continent as a potential testbed for Premier League D2C services, although he stressed this was delayed by the pandemic. “It’s going to be a long journey but you will see sports rights holders skilling up and understanding how to build relationships,” explained Masters, coming in the year that multiple Premier League sports rights contracts were renewed for up to six years and the league opened an office in Singapore. Full story here.

Now read this: The Asian events are coming thick and fast and next week will see the nine-day long Busan International Film Festival return in full force after two years virtual. This primer from our Asia expert Liz Shackleton is well worth a read, as she interviewed director Huh Moonyung about the strength of Korean content and a growth in the drama series selection. And if you need educating on the changing role of Korean film markets, this deep-dive with Busan ACFM Chief Oh Seok Geun is well worth your time. 

The Essentials 

Matthew Fox, Sean Penn and Kick Gurry

🌶️ Hot One: Jesse broke the news of Sean Penn’s latest project, an Australian comedy for Stan with ITVX taking UK rights.

🌶️ Another One: Borat breakout Maria Bakalova will star in under-the-radar drama-thriller Electra. Andreas with this spicy one.

🌶️ Getting hotter: Breakout Bridgerton star Charithra Chandran is leading and associate producing Australian drama Song of the Sun God. 

👩🏻‍💼 New jobs: Warner Bros. Discovery set out its France, Benelux and Africa team under Pierre Branco.

🏃 Frontrunner: Mexico submitted Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s hotly-anticipated Bardo as its official entry for the International Feature Oscar race.

🏪 Setting up shop: Killing Eve producer Sid Gentle opened in Bristol

⛏️ Axed: 380 roles from the BBC World Service, with some asked to relocate away from the UK.

🏆 Awards latest: Cannes Directors’ Fortnight unveiled its new Selection Committee. 

🤝 Done deal: Met Film acquired Republic Film Distribution, the firm run by the brilliantly-named Zak Brilliant. Our Zac Ntim had this one.

🎥 Trail: Fridtjof Ryder’s debut feature Inland, co-starring Mark Rylance, Rory Alexander and Kathryn Hunter. Worth a watch.

Diana Lodderhose and Melanie Goodfellow contributed to this week’s Insider.


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