In a further push into China’s entertainment sphere, e-commerce giant Alibaba has pacted with Lionsgate to launch Lionsgate Entertainment World, a subscription streaming service for the mainland. The service will be available exclusively through Alibaba’s set-top boxes and will give users access to high-profile Lionsgate titles including Divergent (which has not had a theatrical release in China), pics from the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises, and TV series The Royals, Nashville and Mad Men. The deal gives Lionsgate bigger exposure in the fast-growing Chinese market where many consumers watch content online — which has traditionally flown lower under the radar of the Middle Kingdom’s famous censors. Alibaba filed for a U.S. IPO earlier this year and recently took a majority stake in ChinaVision Media Group, now Alibaba Pictures Group, as part of its bid to expand. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company has also recently approached Chinese film studios about creating or acquiring content for its online service, and that it is eyeing further investment in local studios. Launch of Lionsgate Entertainment World is expected next month. David U. Lee, founder and president of Leeding Media, helped orchestrate the agreement.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Alibaba, Lionsgate In China Streaming Deal; Discovery Western Europe Hires BBC Veteran; More
With a little more than a month to go until Peter Capaldi fully regenerates as the latest incarnation of the Time Lord, the official Doctor Who trailer has been revealed. BBC One aired the latest look at Series 8 during halftime of the World Cup on Sunday night. After some much shorter glimpses into the new Who, this full-length trailer features Daleks, Cybermen, a dinosaur and Capaldi on a horse. Series 8 kicks off on the BBC and on BBC America on August 23 with a feature-length episode entitled “Deep Breath” in which Capaldi’s 12th Doctor makes his first full-episode appearance. Jenna Coleman returns as companion Clara Oswald and Samuel Anderson joins the cast as Danny Pink, a teacher at Coal Hill School, where Clara also works. On Friday, the BBC said it had added comedian, actor and broadcaster Sanjeev Bhaskar (The Kumars) to the cast. Guest stars in the new series include Michelle Gomez, Frank Skinner, Ben Miller, Tom Riley, Keeley Hawes and Hermione Norris.
With the season premiere looming Aug. 23 for the newest Doctor Who, BBC One has rolled out a very brief teaser trailer featuring, well, not so much new Who Peter Capaldi as an electrifying peek into his innards, which may indeed include his soul as the Dalek-y voiceover declares but definitely features those twin hearts. Makes one wonder if the good doctor is a cardiologist. But as the BBC pitch goes, they want you to get to know him, apparently from the inside out. This comes not long after another BBC video with more Capaldi came out June 27. Check out here:
The game is on — again!, BBC One tweeted this afternoon. That was following clues it left Monday night alerting Sherlock fans that a surprise was in store for today. In the first missive, the channel — which had changed its handle to “Sherlock – #221back” for the occasion — posted a GIF of Andrew Scott as Moriarty from the last episode of Season 3, and the question, “Did you miss me?” An hour later, BBC One wrote, “It’s all gone dark… Something’s coming… Or someone. Details at 2.21pm tomorrow.” And now we’ve solved the mystery. The BBC has confirmed the sleuthing drama will return for a special, followed by a series of three new episodes. Shooting on the special will start in January 2015, with the series shooting later next year. “We’re ready to unleash the most shocking and surprising series of #Sherlock yet. The only thing is to expect is the unexpected…,” said BBC One today. A fourth season has unofficially been afoot for some time, but dates have never been specified — a lot of juggling is necessary given the big screen demands on stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Today’s confirmation follows reports on Sunday that the high-functioning sociopath and sidekick/best pal Dr John Watson would be back for a special in 2015. Freeman told The Telegraph a period of filming looked “pretty likely” in early 2015 and that he thought it “might be for next Christmas.” Either way, fans have had to wait long periods before to catch up with the characters, and their fervor has not abated. When Season 3 kicked off on BBC One and PBS in January this year after a two year hiatus, it was the series’ most-watched episode ever, on both sides of the Atlantic.
Spoiler Alert if you haven’t watched match…
During much of the Spain v Chile World Cup match last night, you could just about hear a pin drop here in Barcelona while Spaniards held their breath and hoped this was going to go another way. In all, an average 13.229M viewers watched La Roja lose to Chile on Telecinco starting at 9 PM for a 67.6% audience share. That makes it the most watched in Spain of all the matches thus far. It’s also the second most watched game with no overtime or shootout in the tournament’s history, according to local reports. Played at Rio’s Maracanã stadium, it was seen on Telecinco by a peak of 15.2M. In Chile, both Canal 13 and TVN aired the game with respective average shares of 32.6 and 21.6, according to preliminary figures. In the UK, the biggest audience of the day went to BBC One with the match averaging 8.02M and a 38.7 share. On social media, the Spain-Chile match generated 8.2M tweets from one hour before, to 30 minutes after play. La Roja‘s 0-2 loss and exit from the tournament are a sad denouement for a team that has had an historic run. It’s also more fodder for those who believe some of the strongest World Cup champs are cursed. Spain is now the 5th world champion team to drop out of the Cup in a subsequent first stage. Today, Colombia plays Ivory Coast, Uruguay plays England, and Japan faces off …
Spoiler Alert if you haven’t seen matches…
UPDATE, 7:53 AM PT: ESPN‘s broadcast of Team USA’s World Cup match against Ghana on Monday night averaged a 7.0 overnight rating. This was the first time out for the U.S. side during the event — and saw the men face off with the team that has eliminated them at each of the past two World Cups. ESPN says the U.S.’ 2-1 victory reps the highest overnight rating ever for a men’s World Cup match on ESPN or ESPN2. (The network started receiving local ratings for the World Cup in 1998.) The top five metered markets were Washington, DC (11.8), New York (10.2), Hartford-New Haven (10.1), Boston (10.0) and Columbus, Ohio (8.9). ESPN says Boston’s score is the highest overnight ever in the market on any network for the men’s World Cup.
PREVIOUS: While we wait on World Cup numbers to come in from ESPN for the U.S. team’s match against Ghana on Monday night, here are some scores from Europe. The USA kicked off against Ghana at 11 PM UK time and was watched by 3.21M viewers on BBC One.
UPDATE: World Cup Ratings: England v Italy Gives ESPN Most-Watched Non-U.S. Group Match; BBC One Scores 11.5M Viewers
Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen match…
UPDATE 4:28 PM PT: The England-Italy game that was played on Saturday averaged a 2.6 rating for ESPN with 4.615M viewers. That makes it ESPN/ESPN2’s most-watched non-U.S. Group Stage World Cup game ever. The network says that only three U.S. men’s Group Stage matches have delivered a larger audience (the side has yet to take the field this year). In terms of household ratings, England’s defeat at the hands of the Azzurri is the 2nd highest-rated non-U.S. Group Stage World Cup game, falling behind Thursday’s Brazil-Croatia opener which scored a record overnight average of 3.2 in the metered markets. Univision, meanwhile, reports that its World Cup audience is 25% larger among total viewers than in 2010 through eight matches. Yesterday was the most-watched Saturday of Group play in Univision Deportes’ World Cup history, the network says. Those matches included Colombia-Greece, Uruguay-Costa Rica and England-Italy. Today’s big match-ups included France versus Honduras, which ended a few hours ago, and Argentina versus Bosnia-Herzegovina, who are still on the pitch. Germany faces off with Portugal tomorrow at 12 PM ET, but what Americans will really have their eyes on is how the U.S. fares against Ghana at 6 PM ET.
Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen match…
UPDATE, 1:22 PM PT: Friday’s Spain-Netherlands game, which rematched the 2010 World Cup final adversaries, scored a 2.0 rating for ESPN with 3.1M viewers on Friday. That was down from the record 4.4M total viewers the network had for Thursday’s opener between Brazil and Croatia. Univision, which is also airing the games Stateside, has offered up its household ratings with the LA market pulling a 5.1 for the Spaniards versus the Dutch; New York was a 3.2. Today (or at midnight tonight if you’re in Europe like I am) England faces off with Italy in what is expected to be a massively watched game, on this side of the world for sure.
PREVIOUS, 2:35 AM PT: Last night’s match between defending World Cup champions Spain and their adversary in the 2010 final in South Africa, the Netherlands, was eagerly anticipated at home and abroad. But in what was an unexpected rout, the Dutch team bested the Spaniards by a staggering 5-1. In the Netherlands, the match was watched by an average 7.2M on Nederland 1. The audience peaked just before the end of play with 8.3M. In Spain, it was watched by 11.2M for a 68.5% share according to local reports. Watching from the sidelines, the UK registered an average 8.22M …
Six-part BBC One crime drama Happy Valley hails from Sally Wainwright, the prolific UK TV writer and BAFTA-winning creator of Last Tango In Halifax. The series that has had Britain all abuzz over the past month and a half came to its climactic concludsion Tuesday night and drew 6.18M viewers for a 28% share. The finale, which should rise a fair bit when delayed viewings are included, was the second-highest rated of the run after the April 29 debut episode attracted 7.64M viewers. Over the series, it averaged about 6.9M and consistently won its slot. The contemporary show is being called the best drama of the year and Wainwright has said there is potential for a second season. There is no deal for the first season to air in the U.S. as yet, but it’s easily the kind that could turn up on BBC America or PBS. It could even be remade à la Broadchurch, the last new drama to have such an effect in Britain. It’s also been compared to Breaking Bad, and there’s already awards talk for next year. (See the trailer below.)
Global Showbiz Briefs: eOne Picks Up ‘The Silent Mountain’, ‘The Night Crew’; Content To Sell Amy Berg’s Janis Joplin Docu; More
eOne Picks Up ‘The Silent Mountain’, ‘The Night Crew’
Entertainment One Films U.S. has taken North American rights to romantic drama The Silent Mountain and U.S. rights to action-thriller The Night Crew. Both films will be released by eOne via all home entertainment platforms. Directed by Ernst Gossner and written by Clemens Aufderklamm, The Silent Mountain stars William Moseley, Claudia Cardinale and Fritz Karl in the story of a young Austrian soldier in World War I who fights his way through the Alps to rescue his Italian girlfriend and escape the impending explosion that will rock the mountain. The Night Crew, directed by Christian Sesma and written by Paul Sloan and Sesma, stars Luke Goss, Danny Trejo, Bokeem Woodbine, Chasty Ballesteros and Jason Mewes. It revolves around a group of hard-up bounty hunters who must survive the night in a desert motel against a horde of savage cartel killers. Premiere Entertainment Group is handling worldwide sales of both films at Cannes.
Jamaica Inn, the highly-anticipated three-part BBC One adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1936 gothic novel, kicked off to strong ratings on Monday night – and got a lot of people talking. But much of the chatter has come in the form of complaints – nearly 2,200 so far, according to BBC News. British viewers are decrying sound issues, and what people have called “mumbling” by the cast of the Origin Pictures production. (The Twittersphere is referring to it as #MumbleInn.) Downton Abbey‘s Jessica Brown Findlay stars with Joanne Whalley, Sean Harris and Matthew McNulty in the drama that’s set in 1820s Cornwall (a West Country county that has a very particular accent). But there’s been some debate as to whether the sound troubles were technical or artistic. Here’s the trailer:
After initial complaints, the BBC on Tuesday apologized, saying there were “issues with the sound levels” which would be adjusted for episodes 2 and 3. (Screenwriter Emma Frost also tweeted: “None of the production team knew what happened with the (transmission) sound. It was fine before.”) Even so, folks continued to gripe and after Monday’s first installment averaged 6.09M viewers, the mini shed 2M viewers by its last on Wednesday. When asked about actors’ delivery, BBC Drama Controller Ben Stephenson told BBC News,
Global Showbiz Briefs: Warner Bros Germany Courts ‘Madame Bovary’; ‘Jamaica Inn’ Off To Strong Start On BBC One; More
Warner Bros Germany Picks Up ‘Madame Bovary’
Warner Bros Germany has acquired all German-speaking rights to Sophie Barthes’ Madame Bovary from A Company Filmed Entertainment. Based on the classic Gustave Flaubert novel, the film stars Mia Wasikowska, Rhys Ifans and Ezra Miller. Barthes co-wrote the screenplay with Rose Barrenche. Currently in postproduction, Madame Bovary tells the tragic story of Emma (Wasikowska), a young beauty who impulsively marries a small-town doctor in order to leave her father’s pig farm behind. But after being introduced to the glamorous world of high society, she soon becomes bored with her stodgy mate and seeks excitement and status outside the bonds of marriage. Joe Neurauter and Felipe Marino of Occupant Entertainment are producing in association with Aden Films’ Barthes and Aleph Motion Pictures’ Jaime Mateus-Tique. UK-based Prescience is financing with Tim Smith and Paul Brett as exec producers. Co-producers include A Company’s Alexander van Duelmen and Kai Kuenneman, Scope Pictures’ Genevieve Lemal and Left Field Ventures’ John Engel. Radiant Films International is handling foreign sales. A Company has distribution in select territories including Eastern Europe, Russia and Vietnam.
Tom Hardy is reuniting with his Locke director and screenwriter Steven Knight, and his Child 44 producer Ridley Scott for eight-part period series Taboo. Knight created the drama based on an original story by Hardy and his father, Chips Hardy. Tom Hardy will star as an early 19th century adventurer battling the East India Company during a time in British history “when the rising power of the Empire seeped into every dark corner,” says exec producer Scott. This is the actor’s latest foray into British television after recently coming on board the second season of BBC Two drama Peaky Blinders, which Knight also created. Scott Free London and Hardy Son & Baker are producing Taboo for BBC One and Sonar Entertainment. Shooting will start in the UK in January 2015.
Set in 1813, Taboo follows Hardy’s James Keziah Delaney who returns from Africa with 14 ill-gotten diamonds and seeking to avenge his father’s death. Refusing to sell the family business to the East India Company, he sets out to build his own trade and shipping empire and finds himself playing a dangerous game with two warring nations, Britain and America.
Tom Hardy calls it a “flagship British drama for this generation.” It’s a “hybrid of orthodox and unconventional storytelling, packed with darkness and spirited characters.” Knight adds that the lead character is “a deeply flawed and deeply troubled …
With ratings bolstered in part by the current season’s schedule change, singing competition format The Voice UK has officially been ordered for two more runs on BBC One. The coaching lineup is to be confirmed. There have been reports that Kylie Minogue, who joined this year, may have a tour conflict, but the BBC has said that it would look to accommodate the singer for a potential return to a red chair. The other current coaches are Tom Jones, Ricky Wilson and will.i.am. The third series is leading up to the season finale on April 5 and has generated weekly average audiences of 8.9M since kicking off in January. However, the semi-final this Saturday hit a low, according to overnight data which gave it 5.94M viewers. Season 2 last year suffered a drop, averaging 7.45M viewers, but Season 3 is back on par with Season 1. The resurgence comes as the competition show shifted its airdates for 2014. It has historically run from March, but had been locked in a showdown over the past few springs with ITV rival Britain’s Got Talent. That Simon Cowell show has not officially set its start date for the 8th season, but is expected to do so anytime. Although BGT and The Voice UK are no longer going head-to-head, 2015 may promise another …
Global Showbiz Briefs: Chinese “Fifth Generation” Director Wu Tianming Dies; New BBC Dramas Feature Stellan Skarsgard, Ben Chaplin, Joanne Froggatt & More; Maurice Lévy To Give Mip-TV Keynote
Chinese director Wu Tianming died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack at his home in Beijing. Wu, known as the “Godfather of the Fifth Generation” directed several films in the 1970s and ’80s that helped reshape Chinese cinema including 1986′s Old Well and 1995′s award winner King Of Masks. He got his professional start at Xi’an Film Studios as an apprentice to Cui Wei and eventually took over the studio in the late 1970s, over the next decade-plus helped guide the careers of such noted Chinese filmmakers as Huang Jianxin, Tian Zhuangzhuang, Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. His last directing job was 2003′s Gadfly, a 20-part TV miniseries based on the E.L. Voynich novel.
Stellan Skarsgard has been cast in the lead role of Abi Morgan’s new BBC series River. Morgan, who has scripted features including Shame, The Iron Lady and the upcoming Suffragette, won an Emmy last year for writing the now cancelled BBC series The Hour. River reteams her with the BBC for a six-part series she created. Kudos is producing. The drama centers on John River (Skarsgard), a brilliant police officer who walks a professional tightrope between a pathology so extreme he risks permanent dismissal, and a healthy state of mind that would cure him of his gift. The series is due to air in 2015.
Also at the BBC, Ben Chaplin, Downton Abbey‘s Joanne Froggatt and Silent Witness‘ Emilia Fox have been confirmed to join drama showcase The Secrets. The strand is a series of five stand-alone films that highlights new writing talent. It’s made by Working Title TV for BBC One. The above are joining a host of British names that includes Olivia Colman, Alison Steadman, Ashley Walters, Helen Baxendale and Sarah Solemani. BAFTA-winning director Dominic Savage will helm the five films, each of which starts with one incident and then follows five different stories stemming from the event.
Doctor Who is getting a new addition — and going back to school. Samuel Anderson (The History Boys, Gavin & Stacey) is joining the cast for series 8 which also introduces Peter Capaldi as the newest incarnation of the Time Lord. Anderson will play recurring character Danny Pink, a teacher at Coal Hill School where companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) also teaches. Head writer and exec producer Steven Moffat said today, “For the fourth time in Doctor Who history, Coal Hill School is coming to the aid of the TARDIS.” The school was the setting of much of the first Doctor Who episode, An Unearthly Child, broadcast in November 1963. In that episode, two teachers, Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, accompanied the first Doctor, William Hartnell. (Among its other appearances, the school also came up in the 50th anniversary special The Day Of The Doctor.) Shooting started recently on episode 4 of the new series which will co-star Robert Goodman (Gangs Of New York, Game Of Thrones), and episode 5, co-starring Jonathan Bailey (Broadchurch) and Pippa Bennett-Warner (Death In Paradise). The new season is due to air later this year. Anderson is repped by the UK’s Creative Artists Management.