The sun finally came back to a windy and rainy Cannes but the weather clearly couldn’t slow the nonstop parties, premieres, deals and hype for which this festival is famous. And despite the rain on Saturday the turnout for Lionsgate’s big Catching Fire bash was wall-to-wall at Baoli Beach, with everyone including star Jennifer Lawrence crowded into the large tent. One exec there actually was happy with the monsoon-like conditions. “The rain probably kept 30% of our RSVPs away which is probably good because i don’t know how we could have squeezed them in,” he said.
With everyone drying out Sunday there seemed to be even more party-hopping than usual. At the crowded Participant Films party at the Carlton, Focus Features CEO James Schamus was accepting congratulations on his re-upping at the company. I have rarely heard him wax more eloquently about a film than Focus’ recent pickup of The Dallas Buyers Club, the movie where Matthew McConaughey lost about 50 pounds to play an early AIDS victim. It’s not dated yet according to Schamus but is planned for fall sometime. “It’s just a bloodbath trying to pick the right date in that period but this movie is extraordinary. I just so admire what Matthew has been doing with his career in the last couple of years between Magic Mike, Killer Joe, The Paperboy, Mud and now this. You know me, I don’t rave like this a lot, but he really knocks this one out of the park. It is the performance of a lifetime,” he says of the actor in a film that is sure to be a main focus of Focus’ awards-season plans. Read More »
Canal Plus‘ nightly news program Le Grand Journal, which broadcasts live across from the Martinez Hotel here in Cannes, was interrupted tonight when gunshots were heard in the crowd. Jury members Christoph Waltz and Daniel Auteuil were being interviewed on the set when the incident occurred. The audience and talent on stage quickly evacuated. Grand Journal host Michel Denisot came back on air shortly after to say that Cannes police had taken the perpetrator into custody and that he had shot two blanks into the air as well as having a fake grenade in his possession. According to Le Figaro, the departmental head of public security for the Alpes-Maritimes region said the man was carrying an alarm pistol. There were no injuries. Here’s a video of the interruption:
The Cannes Film Festival is known the world over as a showcase for movies, celebrities and swanky parties. It’s also known for the thieves that descend on the town during the two-week period. One made off with a massive score on Thursday night, heisting what’s said to be over $1M worth of Chopard jewelry from a hotel room. The police service in Nice confirm to Deadline that the theft took place. Chopard is a sponsor of the fest and designs the coveted Palme d’Or awards. It also provides baubles for celebrities who strut the red carpet. According to French media reports, the theft occurred in the room of a Chopard employee at the Suite Novotel hotel which is about a 10-minute walk from the Croisette. The room safe, which contained jewelry destined to be worn by stars here in town, was ripped out and removed, Nice police told Le Monde. Festgoers have long fallen victim to pickpockets and hotel room break-ins, but this is one of the biggest heists to go down in recent Cannes history. Coincidentally, last night saw the world premiere of Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring in Un Certain Regard. That movie is based on the true story of a group of teenagers … Read More »
Tribeca And Doha Film Fest End Partnership After four years of collaboration, the Doha Film Institute and Tribeca Enterprises have announced the dissolution of their partnership on the Doha Tribeca Film Festival. Doha Film Institute CEO Abdulaziz Al-Khater says the Qatar-based festival will continue in a “new niche” with future plans to be laid out during Cannes next month. I’m told the separation was amicable after Tribeca helped launch the festival. Last year, DTFF showcased Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist which was made with the backing of the DFI. In Berlin earlier this year, Participant Media partnered with the DFI to form a $100M revolving fund to finance a slate of feature films.
Fraser Robinson Joins ITV Studios Global Entertainment
Former NBC Universal International Channels exec Fraser Robinson has joined ITV Studios Global Entertainment as VP scripted acquisitions & co-productions. He will be charged with growing the drama slate and co-production portfolio of the commercial arm of UK broadcaster ITV. He was previously director of scripted development for NBCU’s international channels group in London with responsibility for developing and managing co-produced content across over 50 platforms worldwide and oversaw series including Haven, Fairly Legal, Rookie Blue and Shattered. Read More »
Sky Atlantic HD‘s six-episode comedy series from writer/director Robert B. Weide (Curb Your Enthusiasm), has added five cast members to join Nick Frost who’s playing the titular Mr. Sloane. Olivia Colman (Broadchurch, Hyde Park On Hudson), Ophelia Lovibond (Mr. Popper’s Penguins), Peter Serafinowicz (The Muppets… Again!) and Lawry Lewin (Horrible Histories) have boarded the bittersweet 1960s-set romantic comedy that centers on Frost’s buttoned-down man in crisis. Shooting is underway in London for a 2014 airdate. Sky Atlantic has been pushing deeper into original series, recently partnersing with Starz on drama Fortitude, with Canal Plus on The Tunnel and with BBC America on biopic Fleming. Read More »
The annual Mip-TV market, and its sister Mipcom, keep getting more interesting as star power grows and what’s on offer takes on an increasingly global feel. At October’s Mipcom, Kevin Spacey was in Cannes to support Netflix’s House Of Cards; Jane Campion presented BBC/Sundance Channel series Top Of The Lake; Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys were here for The Americans and even Harvey Weinstein turned up in support of The Weinstein Co.’s push into international TV sales. Mip-TV, which kicks off in earnest on Monday, will draw such speakers as BBC controller Ben Stephenson, eOne’s Darren Throop, Da Vinci’s Demons creator David S. Goyer, CSI franchise creator Anthony Zuiker, Homeland exec producers Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff, Endemol’s Tim Hincks and Discovery chief David Zaslav. Shine America CEO Rich Ross is also in town.
At these international markets, there’s an increasingly habitual fight between the big ticket drama and the reality format business. Both are lucrative in an expanding and fragmented market. But while certain companies are chasing the critical mass of the next Big Brother, others are finding it’s good to be in the scripted drama business, making deals that give them – and the shows – the most flexibility.
High-profile dramas that will be showcased here in Cannes this week include Da Vinci’s Demons which was picked up straight to series by Starz in October and premieres there on April 12. The BBC Worldwide co-production will roll out in 120 countries courtesy of Fox International Channels. (Starz is also in Cannes with the first episode of The White Queen which will premiere with star Max Irons in attendance.)
The straight-to-series deal is part of a growing trend that sees companies seek direct orders in the U.S. for a license fee, relying on international sales. Jens Richter of Red Arrow International, which sold cooking competition show The Taste to ABC, says that when it comes to drama, “For an indie, it only works if it goes straight to series. You can’t go through a pilot… and then take the risk.” Red Arrow also handles the Norway-set Lilyhammer with Steven Van Zandt which is a partnership with Netflix and is currently shooting its second season. “Everybody profits, you spread risk on various shoulders and go straight into production.” There’s also an upside for talent. They can take a backend position that’s worth “real money from day one.” Read More »
New BBC Chief Says “Best Days Lie Ahead” Today was the first day on the job for the BBC’s new director general, Tony Hall. The broadcaster’s former head of news returned to the Beeb after more than a decade as CEO of the Royal Opera House. The organization he confronted today is in far different shape than it was when he left. After going into crisis mode last October when the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal broke open, the BBC was rocked by the mishandling of a Newsnight report that mistakenly identified a senior politician as an alleged pedophile. Those events led to the resignation of former director general George Entwistle after only 54 days on the job. Mark Thompson, Entwistle’s predecessor, left in September to become CEO of The New York Times Company and under his watch austerity measures were put in place after the license fee that was frozen until 2017. Two major unions went out on strike at the BBC last Thursday in protest over what was referred to as “a modern-day BBC sweatshop” along with bullying claims at the company. Hall made a handful of appointments prior to starting at the BBC, but has yet to name a head of news or head of television. In an email to staff today, he said, “With imagination and hard work, the BBC’s best days lie ahead of us.” Read More »
In what will be the first fully-subtitled drama to air on the UK’s Channel 4 in 20 years, the net has acquired premiere broadcast rights to French supernatural series Les Revenants. Zodiak is handling international sales on the thriller that was produced by Haut et Court for Canal Plus and originally aired to record numbers last fall. The show, re-titled Rebound in the UK, centers on a group of people in a small Alpine village who find themselves in a state of confusion, trying to return to their homes. What they don’t yet know is that they’ve been dead for several years, and no one is expecting them back. Fabrice Gobert created the show based on the 2004 feature Les Revenants by Robin Campillo. Anne Consigny, Clotilde Hesme, Celine Sallette, Frederic Pierrot, Samir Guesmi and Guillaume Gouix star.
The UK is no stranger to subtitled fare – BBC Four airs such imported shows as Sweden’s Wallander, Denmark’s Borgen and Italy’s Inspector Montalbano. But the Rebound deal marks the second time in recent months that there’s been cross-Channel collaboration on a series. Sky Atlantic and Canal Plus started shooting last month on The Tunnel, the 10-part bilingual English-French adaptation of Scandinavian cop series The Bridge. Read More »
Steven Spielberg‘s international tour of newsy tidbits continues. Speaking to France’s Canal Plus recently, the filmmaker dropped info about his development of a Napoleon miniseries based on a screenplay by Stanley Kubrick. Yesterday, Spielberg was in India to talk about Lincoln, meet with the local industry and attend a party hosted by Anil Ambani, the head of DreamWorks partner Reliance Entertainment. He also spoke to The Times Of India about a project that DreamWorks plans to make locally. “We have finalized a script for a movie that DreamWorks and our partners Reliance Entertainment plan to make together. Part of it will take place on the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir. But we’re still trying to figure out the casting, locations and who’s going to direct it,” Spielberg told the paper. He also renewed talk of a long-gestating Martin Luther King project saying “DreamWorks-Reliance is also planning a movie on Martin Luther King Jr. I wouldn’t call it a biopic, it’s more a story of King and the movement and also about how his admiration for Mahatma Gandhi helped to shape his moral core.” DreamWorks acquired the civil rights leader’s life rights from the King Estate in 2009 Read More »
Ahead of next month’s MipTV market in Cannes, Gaumont is rebranding its Alphanim label to become Gaumont Animation. Under its new banner, the children’s entertainment producer and distributor has entered a development and production agreement with DreamWorks Classics and France Télévisions for 3D CGI animated series, Noddy, based on the character created in 1949 by Enid Blyton. DreamWorks Animation acquired the rights to Noddy, about a little wooden boy who lives in Toyland, as part of its 2012 purchase of Classic Media. French major Gaumont has increasingly ramped up its television activities. In 2011, it launched Gaumont International Television, a U.S.-based subsidiary that’s producing Hannibal for NBC and Sony/AXN, Hemlock Grove for Netflix, and Barbarella with Canal Plus. The company originally acquired Alphanim in 2007.
Harry, He’s Here To Help and Lemming director Dominik Moll has come aboard to helm the The Tunnel, the Franco-British adaptation of Scandinavian series The Bridge. Shooting starts this month on the Sky Atlantic/Canal Plus co-production from Kudos Film and TV and Shine France Films in association with Filmlance. As I reported last week, the 10-part drama stars Harry Potter actress Clémence Poésy and Game Of Thrones‘ Stephen Dillane as detectives investigating the death of a French politician who are forced into an uneasy partnership as they seek out a politically-motivated serial killer. Also joining the cast are Game Of Thrones‘ Joseph Mawle, Da Vinci’s Demons‘ Tom Bateman, Dancing On The Edge and Merlin‘s Angel Coulby, Silent Witness‘ Tobi Bakare, French actors Jeanne Balibar, Thibault de Montalembert and Mathieu Carrièrre and British actor Jack Lowden. The second episode will also feature Upstairs Downstairs‘ Keeley Hawes and veteran British actress Liz Smith.
A group of private equity firms may bid against DirecTV to acquire GVT, the Brazilian broadband unit of Canal Plus owner Vivendi. The firms include KKR, Apax Partners, JPMorgan Chase’s Gavea Investments and Cambuhy Investimentos, Bloomberg reports. The consortium would be willing to pay about 5B euros ($6.78B), starkly lower than Vivendi’s 8B euro ($10.85B) asking price. But DirecTV may get closer to the ask, as it eyes increased demand for pay-TV and Internet service in Latin America and with growth subsiding in the U.S., Bloomberg sources said. “I see it as a nice-to-have, not a must-have,” DirecTV CEO Mike White said earlier this month. “There are synergies, but it’s still a work in process, and I can’t yet tell you whether the synergies are big enough for me to get comfortable that they can more than offset the premium. All that depends on the price.” DirecTV, Liberty Global, America Movil and Read More »
The Tunnel is the Franco-British adaptation of Scandinavian series The Bridge that’s gearing up for production next month. I’ve confirmed that Harry Potter actress Clémence Poésy and Game Of Thrones‘ Stephen Dillane have bagged the leads in what’s billed as the first-ever bilingual broadcast series for the UK and France. (UK site TVWise had the jump on the cast rumor.) The drama will be set primarily in Folkestone and Calais where detectives Karl Roebuck (Dillane) and Elise Wassermann (Poésy) are called to investigate the death of a French politician. When a shocking discovery is made at the crime scene, the pair is forced into an uneasy partnership as they seek out a politically-motivated serial killer who draws them into his own personal agenda. Ben Richards (Spooks, Outcasts, Party Animals) is heading up an Anglo-French writing team with broadcast planned for later this year. Sky Atlantic and Canal Plus are co-producing the 10-part drama from Kudos Film and TV and Shine France Films in association with Filmlance. FX recently shot a pilot starring Demian Béchir and Diane Kruger for its own U.S. version of the Hans Rosenfeldt-created show. Poésy is repped in France by Agence Elisabeth Simpson and Dillane is repped in the UK by Michelle Braidman Associates.
Shares appreciated 9% to $15.69 in the first week after Liberty Media spun Starz off as an independent company. But its debut was also greeted by analyst reports that raised concerns about its prospects. Barclays Equity Research’s Chris Merwin initiated coverage today with an “equal weight” rating, and $15 price target. He fears that the premium pay TV network company won’t find a buyer or partner soon, and could soon see its profit margins shrink. Outlays for original programming will rise: Starz could have as much as 60 hours of originals in 2014, up from 38 hours this year — potentially raising next year’s production costs by 20% to $241M — the analyst says. In addition, execs soon will have to start negotiating to extend Starz’ movie carriage deal with Sony, which expires at the end of 2016. That could be costly. Starz needs Sony more than ever now that Disney has said it will move its films to Netflix beginning in 2016. And Merwin predicts that “other bidders, particularly Netflix and Amazon, could make competitive offers” for the studio’s films. Read More »
The DGA today announced its nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentaries, with three of the five feature-length films — How To Survive A Plague, The Invisible War and Searching For Sugar Man — also receiving Oscar nominations last week. Winners will be announced February 2 at the 65th annual DGA Awards Dinner in Hollywood in a ceremony hosted by Kelsey Grammer. Here are the guild’s nominees in alphabetical order:
KIRBY DICK The Invisible War
Cuomo Cole Productions
Chain Camera Pictures
This is Mr. Dick’s first DGA Award nomination.
MALIK BENDJELLOUL Searching For Sugar Man
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Passion Pictures Production
Canfield Pictures & The Documentary Company
Red Box Films
This is Mr. Bendjelloul’s first DGA Award nomination.
LAUREN GREENFIELD The Queen of Versailles
Queen of Versailles, LLC
This is Ms. Greenfield’s first DGA Award nomination.
DAVID FRANCE How To Survive A Plague
Public Square Films
Ford Foundation/Justfilms Impact Partners
How to Survive a Plague, LLC
This is Mr. France’s first DGA Award nomination.
ALISON KLAYMAN Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry
United Expression Media
Muse Film and Television
Never Sorry, LLC
Originally produced by France’s Haut et Court for Canal Plus, Les Revenants aired in eight one-hour episodes last fall, drawing record numbers for the pay-TV channel. Paul Abbott, creator of the British and co-creator of the U.S. version of Shameless, and his AbbottVision will produce the English-language adaptation for the international market. The series, with the English working title They Came Back, centers on a group of men and women in a small Alpine village who find themselves in a state of confusion, trying to return to their homes. What they don’t yet know is that they’ve been dead for several years, and no one is expecting them back. AbbottVision has a first-look deal with Fremantle Media Enterprises which acquired the rights to the project and will handle international distribution.
Scandinavian format The Bridge is getting another adaptation, only this time it’s called The Tunnel. In what’s being billed as the first-ever bilingual broadcast series for the UK and France, Sky Atlantic HD and Canal Plus are co-producing the 10-part drama from Kudos Film and TV and Shine France Films in association with Filmlance. FXrecently shot a pilot starring Demian Béchir and Diane Kruger for its own U.S. version of the Hans Rosenfeldt-created show which moved the action from the Danish-Swedish border to the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico. For The Tunnel, Ben Richards (Spooks, Outcasts, Party Animals) will lead an Anglo-French writing team to shift the story to the area where the UK meets France. Set primarily in Folkestone and Calais, the series seees detectives Karl Roebuck and Elise Wassermann called to investigate the death of a French politician on behalf of their respective countries. When a shocking discovery is made at the crime scene, they are forced into an uneasy partnership as they seek out a politically-motivated serial killer who draws them into his own personal agenda. Production will begin later this month for broadcast later this year. Exec producers are Anne Mensah for Sky, Fabrice De La Patellière for Canal Plus, Jane Featherstone, Karen Wilson, Manda Levin … Read More »
Satellite company DirecTV, John Malone’s Liberty Global, Carlos Slim’s America Movil and a group of private equity funds have entered non-binding bids to acquire GVT, the Brazilian broadband unit of French conglom Vivendi. The offers are each more than 6B euros ($7.79B), but are less than the 7B euros Vivendi was seeking, according to Reuters. Vivendi, which owns pay-TV giant Canal Plus, has been looking to divest of some telecom assets as it focuses on developing its content and media businesses. GVT provides fixed telephone, broadband and TV services in 120 Brazilian cities. Among the bidders, America Movil owns Brazil’s third-largest mobile operator Claro and DirecTV’s Sky Brasil holds about 30% of the pay-TV market. Final bids are expected by early January, Reuters said.
Rodolphe Belmer Ascends At Canal Plus
Rodolphe Belmer has been appointed to the board the Canal Plus Group and named director general of the company. The executive, No. 2 at France’s dominant pay-TV company, was formerly deputy director general. Among his functions will be oversight of the free and pay-TV activities of Canal Plus in France as well as other activities. He will not, however, oversee international expansion or film-related activities which will remain under president Bertrand Meheut. According to Le Monde, Meheut, whose mandate at Canal Plus chief ends at the end of 2014, has been preparing his succession for several months. Belmer has been second in command at Canal since 2003 and recently oversaw the acquisition of free-to-air channels Direct 8 and Direct Star from the Bolloré group.
Yahoo To Bow Out Of South Korea
Yahoo Inc’s South Korean operation said today it will exit the country, underscoring its struggle against Google, Facebook and local competitors expanding aggressively into mobile advertising and online services. South Korea is the first Asian country Yahoo is leaving. Yahoo Korea, which started business in 1997 and is wholly owned by the U.S. search company, has around 200-250 employees in South Korea. It will terminate Korean online portal services in December. In the South Korean market, it has failed to beat local rivals such as NHN Corp, Daum Communications Corp and SK Communications Co. Read More »