ITV, the UK’s leading — and highly acquisitive — commercial broadcaster said this morning that it’s on track to deliver another year of growth despite a 3% drop in viewing figures for the flagship channel over the first six months of 2014. In releasing its half-year results, the company says external revenues are up 7% to £1,225M ($2,074M). That includes increases in non-advertising, online, pay, interactive, and ITV Studios revenues. The latter, which is one of the key areas the company has been focusing on, is up 2% to £402M ($681M). ITV has acquired a slew of independent production companies over the past nearly two years, most recently taking 80% of Pawn Stars maker Leftfield Entertainment. The broadcaster has also been on a transformation plan to reduce debt and says its total cost savings for the full year is ahead of target at about £15M ($25.4M). The acquisitions, it says, will “ensure continued good growth in ITV Studios this year and into next year” while a return to organic growth will be seen in 2015 helped by investment in scripted programming. The evolving strategy will include an increasing emphasis on international content creation and distribution. However, ITV is not expecting to be acquired itself. Liberty Global recently bought BSkyB’s 6.4% holding in ITV, but boss Adam Crozier said today that the broadcaster doesn’t plan to sell parts of its business. “We are certainly not considering selling off any parts of this business; …
As expected, BSkyB said this morning that it will create “a world-class multinational pay TV business” with the acquisition of 100% of Sky Italia and 57.4% of Sky Deutschland. The UK’s leading pay-TV player has acquired the stakes from Rupert Murdoch‘s 21st Century Fox in a deal worth about £4.9B ($8.3B) in cash, plus assets. (Fox owns and will retain a 39% stake in BSkyB.) The combined group will have 20M subscribers in Europe across three of the four biggest markets. BSkyB will pay £2.07B for Sky Italia and £2.9B for Deutschland. It will also transfer its 21% ownership of National Geographic Channel to Fox at a value of £382M ($649M). That will raise Fox’s stake in the channel to 73%. BSkyB says it will also launch a voluntary cash offer to the remaining shareholders of Sky Deutschland at 6.75 euros ($9) per share. Subject to the number of shareholders who accept the offer, the overall cash value of the deals announced today could reach £7B ($11.9B). The moves come as BSkyB reported adjusted revenue for the year was up 7% to £7.6B ($2.9B).
The moves to create Sky Europe also come as Fox pursues a mega-acquisition of Time Warner. While speculation has been that the deal to combine the Skys was designed to raise funds for another eventual run at TW, it’s also considered that this deal has a distinct raison d’être and exists on its own …
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Magic In The Moonlight’, ‘The Fluffy Movie’, ‘A Most Wanted Man’, ‘The Kill Team’, ‘Happy Christmas’
Looming in the wake of Boyhood‘s hot box office roll out earlier this month, some heavy-hitters will enter the Specialty fray this weekend which should shape up to be rather interesting come Sunday box office time. Woody Allen blitzed theaters last July with a smashing roll out of Blue Jasmine and he’s back, courtesy once again of Sony Classics with his latest Magic In The Moonlight. The distributor, however, is taking a somewhat different release track this time around. Lionsgate/Roadside is opening Philip Seymour Hoffman starrer A Most Wanted Man after delaying the title’s bow in the wake of its star’s death. The film will have a sizable theater count as it heads out to the box office Friday. But the weekend’s biggest Specialty opener in terms of location tally is Open Road’s The Fluffy Movie, which will hit several hundred locations nationwide though the bulk of its marketing has been targeted to a particular audience. On the other end of the scale is Oscilloscope’s Tribeca-winner The Kill Team which will bow at a single exclusive showing in NYC, while Magnolia’s Happy Christmas will have its theatrical launch in several locations after launching via ultra-VOD in late June.
SPC has had a winning streak with Woody Allen summer releases and it’s sticking to that formula for the filmmaker’s latest. Last year’s Oscar winner Blue Jasmine launched as a Specialty behemoth July 26 in 6 theaters, with a dazzling $102K average, eventually grossing over $33.4 million domestically. To Rome With Love was a comparatively more “modest” release, with a $72,272 PTA in five theaters in June 2012 ($16.69M cume), while 2011′s Midnight In Paris rocketed a $99,834 launch weekend PTA with six runs — eventually grossing over $56.8 million. “His films really seem to work in summer time,” said SPC co-president Michael Barker whose company has released Allen’s most recent five movies (and others in the past). The only recent exception was 2010′s You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger which opened in September of that year ($3.24M gross).”
Ramping up its strategy to build a broad international content business, Britain’s Sky has acquired a 70% stake in Love Productions. The UK-based maker of Great British Bake Off was founded in 2004 by Richard McKerrow and Anna Beattie. Love has production bases in London, Bristol, NY and LA. Its other credits include Great British Sewing Bee and factual programming Baby Borrowers, Famous Rich And Homeless and the controversial welfare documentary Benefits Street which caused a stir on Channel 4 earlier this year. The indie will continue to operate as a distinct company under its new ownership structure and will produce for all major UK broadcasters. McKerrow and Beattie will continue to run the company with the current senior management team. Sky’s international distribution business, Sky Vision, will become Love’s distribution partner, representing all new finished programs and formats. Sky already has development deals with U.S. and UK production companies including Ugly Brother Studios, back2back productions and Roughcut TV. The acquisition is a further step in the consolidation of the indie TV sector with such companies as ITV, Warner Bros, Red Arrow and Sony acquiring stakes in successful producers on both sides of the Atlantic. The move also highlights Sky’s push to increase its footprint across broadcasting, production and distribution. In May, Sky acknowledged speculation over its potential acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s interests in European pay-TV groups Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia. At the time, it said it had “initiated preliminary discussions with 21st Century …
Fox’s Gracepoint, an American remake of the British series Broadchurch, is not a shot-for-shot recreation — though it may seem like it’s going in that direction in the first two two episodes, after which it will begin to differ substantially, the exec producers promised to dubious TV critics this afternoon at the TCAs.
The first portions of the British eight-parter were “so well done, why would we contort ourselves to tell it differently?” Carolyn Bernstein said when some critics commented about how the two episodes they’d seen of Gracepoint replicated early Broadchurch episodes. “We didn’t want to fix something we all thought was excellent,” Bernstein explained at Summer TV Press Tour 2014. She and EP/showrunner Dan Futterman promised it will begin to differ substantially.
Further muddying things, in October, Fox announced that Broadchurch star David Tennant had been cast in its 10-hour series. In Fox’s version, Tennant plays an American detective who is the lead investigator in a shocking murder that puts a small town under scrutiny. Though this time it’s set in an American town, like the original it follows the tragic and mysterious death of a young boy found dead on a beach surrounded by rocks and a jutting cliff face, from where he may have fallen. Although his cause of death remains unsolved, the picturesque seaside town where the tragedy occurred is at the heart of a major police investigation and a nationwide media frenzy.
The American version purports to have a different killer.
“I don’t …
American networks have been looking to bring the variety format back to primetime, most recently NBC with The Maya Rudolph Show, now they have another choice. ITV Studios America is shopping an U.S. version of the popular ITV program Saturday Night Takeaway. Originally launched in 2002, Saturday Night Takeaway, hosted and executive produced by top British TV presenters Ant & Dec, is one of the most successful entertainment variety shows in the UK. It offers a mix of games, physical tasks as well as pranks that often involve the show’s celebrity guests (watch below a clip with an elaborate prank on TV chef Gordon Ramsay). Audience members are chosen at random to participate in challenges, and viewers at home can be selected to receive surprise visits with the chance to win prizes. After nine seasons, Saturday Night Takeaway went on hiatus in 2009. It came back last year, winning BAFTA for Entertainment Programme and Entertainment Performance (Ant & Dec). The format has local versions in several countries including Germany, Serbia, China and Belgium.
John Malone’s Liberty Global has been on an acquisitions spree in Europe over the past year, and while the company says it does not intend to make a takeover bid for the whole, it has purchased a 6.4% stake in the UK’s leading commercial broadcaster ITV. Liberty has acquired 259.8 million shares in ITV from BSkyB for approximately £481M ($824M), the company said in a statement early Thursday morning.
In another victory for the WGA East’s ongoing campaign to organize reality TV shows, the writer-producers at Original Media have voted to be repped by the guild in collective bargaining. The vote, held under the auspices of the National Labor Relations board, was 42-9 to join. Original Media produces shows including Swamp People, Inkmaster and Stormchasers. “We look forward to sitting down with the company and negotiating a contract that will provide health benefits, paid time off, minimum compensation levels, and other basic union protections,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of the WGA East, in announcing voting results today.
In the last five years, the guild has negotiated contracts with three New York-based reality TV companies in Sharp Entertainment, Lion TV and Optomen Productions. It trying to get two others – ITV and Peacock Productions – to sign its contract. During recent hearings before the New York City Council, the guild presented evidence of unsafe and “sweatshop” working conditions at the city’s largely nonunion reality TV industry.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Lucy’ To Open Locarno Film Festival; Brazil’s Take On ‘Rising Star’ Gets Season 2 Renewal; More
‘Lucy’ To Open Locarno Film Festival
Luc Besson’s Lucy is set to open the Locarno Film Festival on August 6. Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman star in the sci-fi pic about a woman caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior. Besson showed extended clips at CineEurope in Barcelona a few weeks ago that handily demonstrated Johansson’s badass-ness in the vein of other of his strong female heroes. The director will be on hand in Switzerland to present the movie that’s produced by his EuropaCorp. Universal releases Stateside on July 25.
Brazil’s ‘SuperStar’ Gets Season 2 Renewal
Rising Star’s Brazilian version, SuperStar, has been renewed for a second season — this is the first renewal for a local version. Rede Globo has ordered a 14-episode second season of Superstar to air in 2015. The Keshet International format had its finale on Sunday and was the most-watched show of the night, peaking with a 33% share and 3M votes. It averaged a 31% share throughout the first season, during which the voting app was downloaded 3.2M times and about 25M votes were cast. The other international versions currently airing are in Portugal and the U.S. Season 2 of the original Israeli format is prepping up.
‘Mandela’ Getting Wide Release In China
In a first for a South African film in China, …
Cor blimey, the British aren’t coming — they’re here to stay. Including Ricky Gervais’ surprise Emmy nomination as Lead Actor in a Comedy series for Derek this morning, there are 15 nods for Brits in the acting races this year. If we add voice-overs, Jeremy Irons and Daniel Craig would make it 17 performance nods. Last year, there were 14 total.
British actors have been plying their trade in U.S. series for ages, but this crop boasts a lot of British-based (or instigated) productions and co-productions rather than U.S. shows à la Homeland. The UK TV tax credit has encouraged British broadcasters to strive for increasingly ambitious productions.
Along with Gervais, whose Derek was originally commissioned for Channel 4 before being picked up by Netflix, there’s a big group from perennial Downton Abbey, a co-pro of Carnival Films and Masterpiece; a first Emmy nod for Golden Globe nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor in BBC miniseries Dancing On The Edge, which Starz airs Stateside; Idris Elba in Luther, another BBC show that goes out on BBC America; and Helena Bonham Carter playing the British-American Elizabeth Taylor in BBC and BBC America co-pro Burton & Taylor. And, of course, Sherlock is back this year. Benedict Cumberbatch scored a Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie spot …
EMMYS: Online Voting Raises Turnout, Possibly Altering Race – And What Do Matthew McConaughey And George C. Scott Have In Common?
History has a chance to repeat itself at the Emmy Awards on August 25th if Matthew McConaughey wins Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. He would become the first – and only other male — to pull off an Oscar win and Emmy win in the same year since George C. Scott did it 43 years ago in 1971. Scott, who famously didn’t attend either ceremony, won the Best Actor Oscar for Patton on April 15th of that year and then less than a month later on May 9th pulled off the Emmy for Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for the “The Price” episode of ITV Saturday Night Theatre. Of course, McConaughey won the Oscar in March for Best Actor in Dallas Buyers Club. Both also won Golden Globes in their respective years too.
As everyone knows, Scott actually refused the Oscar and called the ceremony a “meat parade.” Goldie Hawn announced him as the winner by saying “Oh my God, it’s George C. Scott!” As I recall, when presenter Suzanne Pleshette opened the Emmy envelope that year she parodied that moment by saying, “Oh my God, it’s George C. Scott!” It should be noted that, unlike his unwanted Academy Award, Scott never turned down the Emmy. He just didn’t show up for it and it was accepted instead on his behalf by Jack Cassidy.
This promises to be one of the most exciting categories at the Emmys this year, with the list of nominees announced this morning not producing a ton of surprises but offering a rich group of nominees featuring the TRIED (Downton Abbey, Mad Men, etc), the TRUE (Detective) along with the NEW (Orange Is The New Black, Silicon Valley, etc). The most astounding thing to me was to see Netflix really break through big-time with 31 nominations and within shouting distance of the traditional three networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) and ahead of Fox.
Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films will travel back much further in time for its latest period drama — a Game Of Thrones-esque epic. The NBC-owned company is teaming with BBC America to co-produce ninth century-set eight-part historical series The Last Kingdom for BBC Two. Based on Bernard Cornwell’s book series The Saxon Stories, The Last Kingdom will combine real historical figures and events with fictional characters during the reign of Alfred the Great, who as King of Wessex fought off a Viking invasion. Replete with heroic deeds and epic battles, the series will also embrace politics, religion, warfare, courage, love, loyalty and the universal search for identity. Stephen Butchard (Good Cop, Five Daughters, House Of Saddam) is scripting. Production starts in the fall and casting has yet to be confirmed. Carnival’s Gareth Neame and Nigel Marchant will exec produce with Butchard. Nick Murphy (Prey, Occupation) is co-executive producing and directing multiple episodes. Chrissy Skinns (Mr Selfridge) will produce.
The series slots into BBC Two’s strong drama portfolio. On deck, it’s also got the ambitious Wolf Hall, the adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s historical novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies.
Set in the year 872, when many of the separate kingdoms of what is now known as England have fallen to the invading Vikings, the great kingdom of Wessex has been left standing alone and defiant under the command of King Alfred the Great. Against this turbulent backdrop lives Uhtred, the hero of the stories. When his noble Saxon parents are killed by the Vikings, the marauders kidnap him and raise him as one of their own. Forced to choose between the country of his birth and the people of his upbringing, his loyalties are continually tested. On a quest to claim his birthright, Uhtred must tread a dangerous path between both sides if he is to play his part in the birth of a new nation and, ultimately, seek to recapture his ancestral lands.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Steve Coogan’s ‘Mid Morning Matters’ Returning To Sky; ITV Orders WWII Drama ‘Jambusters’; More
Sky Atlantic Sets Steve Coogan For New Season Of ‘Mid Morning Matters’
After bringing his long-running Alan Partridge character to the big screen last year, Steve Coogan will return as the socially awkward North Norfolk digital radio DJ in a new season of Mid Morning Matters on the UK’s Sky Atlantic HD. Shooting has started on the six-part series that’s produced by Coogan’s Baby Cow. A 2015 airdate is planned. Along with the new episodes, Sky Atlantic has also ordered a one-hour documentary special hosted by Partridge. Before making his feature debut, Partridge, created in 1991 by Coogan and Armando Iannucci, returned to UK TV in June 2012 with two Sky Atlantic specials, Welcome To The Places Of My Life and Alan Partridge On Open Books With Martin Bryce. Coogan won a BAFTA as lead male in a comedy program for Places Of My Life, which was Sky Atlantic’s highest-rated comedy commission. Those programs were followed by a six-part special edition of the first season of Mid Morning Matters. The new series is written by Coogan, Neil Gibbons and Rob Gibbons and produced by Ted Dowd. Executive producers are Coogan and Henry Normal for Baby Cow Productions. Coogan last year was nominated with co-writer Jeff Pope for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Philomena. The pair won the BAFTA in the same category. Speaking as Partridge today, Coogan said: “I am both thrilled, humbled, gladdened and excited to be bringing Mid Morning Matters back to …
Currently airing in Brazil, Portugal and the U.S. — where reviews have been lackluster and ratings slipped 20% in the demo on Sunday night from last week’s ABC series debut — Rising Star is taking the next evolutionary step in the singing competition arena. Keshet International and Universal Music Group have entered a multi-territory deal, excluding the U.S. and Israel, which will see UMG acquire exclusive options to sign artist agreements with any or all show contestants. Separately, Keshet DCP has signed a deal with UMG which will see artists on ABC’s U.S. version win a record deal with the Capitol Records label. Capitol is also making full studio recordings of the performances available for download. (UMG’s Interscope Records already releases American Idol winner and contestant music.) Overseas, KI and UMG say they will work together to maximize finalists’ potential locally and internationally on all platforms. In terms of breakouts so far, the waters are relatively untested. The only Rising Star series to complete its run is the original Israeli version whose finale scored big ratings on Keshet Channel 2 in December 2013. The winner was 20-year-old Evyatar Korkus, who received his first record deal, and beat out The Gat Brothers (aka The Singing Rabbis). Brazil and Portugal, the 2nd and 3rd markets to launch, are drawing average audience shares of about 30%. In September, France’s M6 debuts its take, and the UK’s ITV will raise …
Spoiler Alert if you haven’t seen matches…
UPDATE, 11:45 AM: It was a loss for Mexico to the Netherlands that saw the North American country’s World Cup 2014 dreams end. However, for Univision, the Sunday game was nothing but a win. 10.4 million viewers watched the Spanish language network’s broadcast of the match. That makes Sunday’s game not only the most watched soccer game ever on Univision or any other US-based Spanish language broadcaster but also the most watched telecast ever on the broadcaster or any other any other US-based Spanish language broadcaster. The previous record holder was the 9.0 million who watched the December 3, 2007 broadcast of the telenova Destilando Amor on Univision. Sunday game on Univision also bested ESPN’s broadcast of the Mexico vs. Netherlands match by 57% more in terms of viewers and 68% among Adults 18-49. But that’s also a record in terms of soccer viewership for Univision and any U.S.-based Spanish-language broadcaster.
PREVIOUS, 7:55 AM: Sunday’s World Cup match-ups saw the Netherlands make a late comeback to dash Mexico’s hopes of advancing to the quarter finals, and Costa Rica overtake Greece in a 5-3 penalty shoot out. The matches continued to set new records for ESPN, with both drawing a 4.5 in the overnight ratings. The two Round of 16 matches now rank as the network’s 4th and 5th largest overnight rating for a World Cup match in any round. The …
The Oscar organization has unveiled its annual invitees list for 2014. Check out the release below:
LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 271 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2014. “This year’s class of invitees represents some of the most talented, creative and passionate filmmakers working in our industry today,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “Their contributions to film have entertained audiences around the world, and we are proud to welcome them to the Academy.”
The 2014 invitees are: