‘Rectify’ Season 2 Will Bow on Sundance Channels In Europe And Asia
ITV Studios Global Entertainment has commissioned the second series of Sundance Channel’s original prod Rectify for distribution on all Sundance Channel Global networks throughout Asia and Europe. The territories include Turkey, France, Iberia, Benelux and CEE. Rectify follows the life of Daniel Holden (Aden Young) after his release from prison after serving 19 years on Georgia’s Death Row. Abigail Spencer, Clayne Crawford, Adelaide Clemens, J. Smith Cameron and Luke Kirby also star. Rectify was created and written by Ray McKinnon (The Accountant, Deadwood, Sons Of Anarchy) and executive produced by Gran Via’s Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein (Breaking Bad). It debuted on April 22 on Sundance Channel US.
‘The Fall’ Is BBC Two’s Best Drama Launch In 8 Years
The Gillian Anderson-Jamie Dornan psychological drama The Fall became BBC Two’s biggest drama series launch since 2005, winning its slot with an average audience of 3.5M and 15.4 share, peaking at 3.6M. It was the channel biggest drama debut since Rome and also beat the BBC Two slot average of 1.79m (7.4%) for the past 12 months. Written by Allan Cubitt and produced by Artists Studio, The Fall follows a police investigation uncovering the intricate story of the lives touched by a series of murders — both the killer’s and the victims’ families.
EXCLUSIVE: AMC Networks‘ female-focused WEtv is looking to follow in the footsteps of siblings AMC, IFC and Sundance Channel by moving into original scripted series. I hear WE is getting help in its plans from AMC, whose untitled Richard LaGravenese/Tony Goldwyn drama project is eyed to become WE’s first scripted series. (The cable network also is exploring other scripted ideas.) I hear WE is considering a nine-episode order to the LaGravenese/Goldwyn project, originally ordered as a pilot by AMC last year. It is a legal thriller centered on a district attorney (Damon Gupton) who uncovers new evidence that prompts the reinvestigation of a sensational murder case. It explores race, capital punishment, personal morality and how people struggle with the shades of gray found in the absence of a simple, ordered moral universe. I hear the potential series order is contingent on finding a showrunner as David Manson, who ran the pilot at AMC, has since moved to Netflix’s House Of Cards as executive producer. LaGravenese wrote and Goldwyn directed the pilot, which the two executive produced, with Andrew Sugarman serving as a co-executive producer. Marin Ireland, Clarke Peters and Aunjanue Ellis co-star in the pilot, which didn’t get a series pickup in December alongside Low Winter Sun but was left in contention. WE, which like AMC started off airing commercial-free movies, currently has its scheduled dominated by unscripted series, led by flagship … Read More »
“We’re paying particular attention to Sundance” because of the campaign to begin folding in commercials — due to take effect toward the end of this year — AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan told analysts this morning. The company touted Sundance Channel‘s appeal to upscale audiences in its sales pitches to advertisers for the upfront market, and is now negotiating to change the channel’s pay TV distribution agreements. Sundance’s current affiliation deals “had not embraced or expected advertising”, Sapan says. But “we’re at the final stage of that [renegotiation] plan”. While the finances for Sundance remain “a little difficult to model,” the AMC chief says that he wants to maximize ad rates by promoting the channel’s “story-telling genetics” and ability to become “a home for some of the best shows on TV.” That should result in “very high engagement and people who care a lot about them.” AMC has used the drama Rectify, its first wholly owned original scripted series, to lead its campaign to change Sundance’s business model. “The critical reception was extremely strong and we think that signals vitality for the direction the channel is going in,” Sapan says. He adds that AMC helped the series by offering new episodes in movie theaters and on cable VOD ahead of their appearance on the channel’s program schedule. “We tried to get people to watch and refer their friends and others to it and we think there’s … Read More »
The stock price is up nearly 6% pre-market after the company released a Q1 report that showed strong results in most key metrics. AMC Networks generated net income of $61.5M, +42.5% vs the period last year, on revenues of nearly $382M, +17.1%. The top line was well ahead of the $366M that analysts projected. And earnings at 85 cents a share topped forecasts for 82 cents. The core National Networks operation led with way with revenues +18.2% to $359.5M and operating income +29.5% to $141M. The company says that ad sales were up 26.9% to $164M “due to strong demand for our original programming, primarily at AMC” which airs The Walking Dead. Affiliate fees rose 11.7% to $196M. The international business, which is much smaller and includes IFC Films, was a different story: Revenues fell 0.2% to $26.3M with an operating loss that increased by $2M to $15M. AMC says that the operation was hurt by a revenue decline in the independent film operation. “AMC Networks is off to a strong start in 2013,” CEO Josh Sapan says pointing to the strong performance of shows including Sundance Channel’s Rectify and Top Of The Lake, IFC’s Portlandia, and WEtv’s Braxton Family Values.
Related: AMC Networks Chief Says ‘Rectify’ Helps Sundance Channel’s Effort To Add Ads
Kon-Tiki, the 1951 Thor Heyerdahl-directed documentary that inspired the Weinstein Company feature nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year, is getting its own day in the sun. It will air on the Sundance Channel on May 11, to be followed by the half-hour behind-the-scenes featurette Kon-Tiki: The Incredible True Story. The docu, which won the 1951 Best Documentary Feature Oscar, was comprised of footage Norwegian scientist-explorer Heyerdahl shot while sailing from Peru to Polynesia on a balsa wood raft — a voyage he completed to support his theory that Polynesia could have been originally settled by South Americans crossing the Pacific. The 4,300-mile journey took he and his crew 101 days. The feature, shot in English and Norwegian and directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, had its platform release last weekend in one theater each in Los Angeles and New York. It took in the specialty box office’s highest per-screen average with $11,167. Kon-Tiki: The Incredible True Story actually will premiere May 3 on National Geographic Channel during its “Night of Exploration” block. Maria Menounos hosts the docu, which features interviews about the making of the feature with Rønning, Sandberg, scribe Petter Skavlan and star Pål Hagen.
Netflix has acquired exclusive Canadian broadcast premiere window rights to Sundance Channel‘s Rectify. ITV Studios Global Entertainment is handling sales on the six-part original series. Netflix launched the first two episodes days after the April 22 U.S. premiere on Sundance Channel and the rest of the series will roll out weekly in line with the U.S. broadcast. Ray McKinnon created the serial that stars Killer Elite‘s Aden Young as a man released from prison after 19 years when DNA evidence casts doubt on his conviction for the rape and murder of a young girl. He returns to his hometown where he must readjust to his new life as doubt still lingers over his innocence.
The timing of last year’s decision by the TV Academy to consolidate the four longform acting categories into two was baffling as it came a couple of days after the record-breaking debut of History’s miniseries Hatfields & McCoys and the network premiere of HBO’s Hemingway & Gellhorn, which had opened at the Cannes Film Festival. The TV Academy moved to cut the categories in half amidst a renaissance of the longform genre with such programs as British imports Downton Abbey, which started off in the miniseries field, Sherlock and Luther; History’s Hatfields & McCoys and FX’s American Horror Story, which was submitted as a miniseries. At the time, TV Academy’s SVP Awards John Leverence explained the decision by saying that the decrease in longform categories “corresponds to their primetime presence.”
But this week, just as the consolidation was about to take effect, the TV Academy reversed its decision, keeping the lead and supporting acting fields intact. “What a difference 13 months make,” Leverence said yesterday. He said the May 2012 vote “was based on how the longform (programming) was trending — the patient was on the table getting last rites.” But now “there has been a major revival of the longform. The consolidation was based on last year’s reality, not based on this year’s reality; what we thought was happening reversed itself.”
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Warp Films Ramps Up TV Fare In Deal With ITVSGE
UK indie production company Warp Films is looking to increase its TV output and has signed a first-look development deal with ITV Studios Global Entertainment. The BAFTA-winning Warp previously produced This Is England ’86 and the This Is England ’88. It’s currently producing drama serial Southcliffe for Channel 4. Warp will ramp up its TV development activity with ITVSGE in the coming weeks and the latter will handle the slate internationally. On the feature side, Warp recently produced Richard Ayoade’s Submarine and has the upcoming The Stone Roses: Made Of Stone and Yann Demange thriller 71 on its slate.
Paris Gets A Summer Drive-In
You have to hand it to the French for their summertime moviegoing initiatives. There’s the open-air cinema at the Parc de la Villette and the Fête du Cinéma in June during which ticket prices are slashed across the country. Exhibitor MK2 is adding a new layer this summer by morphing Paris’ Grand Palais museum into a drive-in movie theater from June 10-21. The historic monument that’s just off the Champs-Elysées will welcome up to 1,000 moviegoers per showing in a 1,300 square foot space filled with old and new model Fiats and surrounded by a diner, a gaming arcade and a roller rink that becomes a dance floor at night. Among the movies screening over the 11 day event that’s dubbed Cinema Paradiso are Pulp Fiction, Grease, The Big Lebowski, Taxi Driver, Psycho and Annie Hall. Tickets go on sale April 26. Read More »
The cable operator will pocket $525M and AMC Networks will end up with $175M the companies said today in an SEC filing. This was the last big question remaining after Dish Network agreed in October to pay $700M to settle the breach of contract suit that Cablevision and AMC filed. They asked the courts to determine whether Dish had the right in 2008 to terminate its 15-year deal to air the VOOM Networks suite of HD channels. The channels, formerly owned by Cablevision, were packaged with AMC when the cable company spun off the network operation last year. The cash split between Cablevision and AMC does not account for the income that the cable networks company will receive from the fee increase that Dish agreed to pay to continue carrying channels including AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel, and WeTV.
Reporting from Cannes
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 »
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Keshet International‘s UK office has hired producer Amelia Hann as head of unscripted programming to oversee a new factual production venture. Hann was most recently executive producer on Channel 4’s The Undateables and her other credits include the BAFTA winning Ross Kemp On Gangs, Wife Swap USA, Baby Bible Bashers, Scrapheap Challenge/Junkyard Wars and The Hunt For Britain’s Sex Traffickers. Read More »
Sundance Channel is looking to give its first wholly-owned scripted production, series Rectify, extra exposure. Following the April 22 two-episode premiere on Sundance Channel, the first hourlong episode will be rebroadcast on sister network AMC on Sunday, April 28, immediately after a new episode of Mad Men. Rectify was created and written by Ray McKinnon and executive produced by Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein, executive producers on AMC’s Breaking Bad. As part of the increased cross-pollination between the channels, AMC recently opted to have repeats of Seasons 1-4 of Breaking Bad air on Sundance.
EXCLUSIVE: Sundance Channel has greenlighted drama series The Descendants (working title), from writer Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners) and producer Sarah Condon (Bored To Death), with a six-episode straight-to-series order. As Sundance is stepping up its original scripted efforts, the cable network also is expanding its scripted programming team. In addition to the recent appointment of Nena Rodrigue as Head of Programming and Development, overseeing scripted and unscripted development with a focus on scripted series, Sundance has named Christian Vesper as SVP Scripted Development and Current, and Jordan Helman as Director, Scripted Development and Current. Vesper, based in New York, reports to Rodrigue. Helman is based in Los Angeles and reports to Vesper.
The Descendants is Sundance’s second wholly owned original scripted series, joining Rectify, which debuts April 22. (Sundance’s mini-series Top Of The Lake premieres March 18.) The Descendants, which was among the handful of scripts Sundance brass zeroed in on for series pickup, is a hard-hitting drama that revolves around a sheriff struggling to keep his family together while simultaneously policing two clashing communities: the small town where he grew up and the neighboring Ramapo Mountains, home of the Ramapo Mountain Indians. After a terrible tragedy and cover-up occurs involving the sheriff’s wife, an unholy alliance is forged between the sheriff and a dangerous member of the tribe that will come back to haunt all involved. Guzikowski, repped by Verve and Madhouse Entertainment, wrote the script and created the series with former HBO executive-turned-producer Condon. “At Sundance Channel, we are passionately dedicated to the creation of non-formulaic, daring original stories and we are delighted with this outstanding new addition to our scripted slate,” said Sarah Barnett, Sundance Channel President and General Manager. Read More »
AMC‘s Walking Dead partnership with Anchor Bay was such a success that the companies are teaming up for more TV-on-DVD distribution. Anchor Bay will handle North American DVD, Blu-ray, and certain digital releases of future original programming from AMC, IFC, and The Sundance Channel starting with The Sundance Channel’s scripted series Rectify, created by Oscar-winning actor Ray McKinnon and produced by Breaking Bad‘s Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein, about an ex-con (Aden Young) readjusting to life on the outside. Rectify debuts April 22 on The Sundance Channel and runs for six one-hour episodes.
Anchor Bay will also handle home entertainment distribution of AMC Studios and Endemol Studios’ forthcoming Detroit-set cop drama Low Winter Sun, starring Mark Strong. Based on the 2006 British mini-series of the same name, Low Winter Sun is written by Simon Donald (The Deep) and produced by Tiger Aspect Productions. The first season runs for ten one-hour episodes.
Sundance Channel has brought in veteran producer-executive Nena Rodrigue as head of programming just as the cable network is nearing a greenlight for an original drama project. I hear Sundance brass have narrowed down the field to three scripts, The Descendants, T and Behind The Sun, and is considering picking up one of them straight to series.
Rodrigue has been named SVP of Original Production and Development, effective immediately. Based in New York, she will be responsible for developing and overseeing Sundance Channel’s original slate — scripted and unscripted — reporting to Sundance Channel president and general manager Sarah Barnett. Given Rodrigue’s extensive scripted background, her focus is expected to be on scripted programming. Sundance’s head of programming post had been vacant since last spring when SVP Michael Klein, who oversaw unscripted, left to head alternative programming for Condé Nast Entertainment. “Nena’s deep experience, especially in dramatic television, will serve us well as we continue our strategy of bringing audiences scripted series of the highest quality as well as fresh, unscripted worlds,” Barnett said. Sundance has been making a push into original scripted programming. Its first wholly-owned original scripted series, Rectify, debuts on April 22; mini-series Top Of The Lake premieres on March 28.
Rodrigue did an eight-year stint as head of development for Dick Wolf’s Wolf Films. Before that, she was a producer under a deal at Touchstone TV, SVP of development for Imagine Television, a development exec at Witt-Thomas Prods. and an … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: ICM Partners has signed Emmy-winning director/producer Liz Garbus, whose most recently film, Love, Marilyn, made its world premiere at Toronto and was acquired by HBO for summer broadcast. Using a cast of actors that includes Adrien Brody, Glenn Close, Paul Giamatti, Uma Thurman and Viola Davis to read from Monroe’s private writings, Garbus brings a little known side of the bottle blonde bombshell to light.
Garbus’s first film about prison life, The Farm: Angola, USA got an Oscar nom and won the Sundance Grand Jury prize and two Emmy Awards. Garbus then co-founded Moxie Firecracker Films with producer/director Rory Kennedy. They made the docu Girlhood and Garbus followed with the HBO docu Bobby Fischer Against The World and Killing In The Name. Garbus also has produced and directed multiple television specials for networks including Lifetime, MTV, A&E, Discovery, Court TV, Sundance Channel, Oxygen, and many others.
Sundance Channel’s first wholly-owned scripted production, Rectify, premieres on April 22 in the U.S. The show, from AMC Networks and Breaking Bad producers Gran Via, has been secured by AMC/Sundance Channel Global for an exclusive first window rollout in Asia, Latin America and select European territories including France, Spain, Portugal and Benelux. ITV Studios Global Entertainment is handling international sales on the six-episode serial that stars Killer Elite‘s Aden Young as a man released from prison after 19 years when DNA evidence casts doubt on his conviction for the rape and murder of a young girl. He returns to his hometown where he must readjust to his new life as doubt still lingers over his innocence. Abigail Spencer, Clayne Crawford, Luke Kirby, Adelaide Clemens and J. Smith Cameron also star. Ray McKinnon created the show.
Sundance Channel‘s Sarah Barnett is getting a title bump. Barnett, who has served as EVP and general manager of the cable channel since 2009, has been upped to president and general manager, effective immediately. She is based in the company’s headquarters in New York City and reports to AMC Networks COO Ed Carroll, who noted that “under Sarah’s leadership, Sundance Channel has undergone a successful and dramatic transformation.”
During her tenure, Barnett has been building Sundance Channel into a destination for original programming. The channel is currently preparing the rollout of its first wholly owned scripted drama Rectify, which premieres Monday, April 22, and Top Of The Lake, which bows Monday, March 18. Read More »