Europe’s major players in TV and film attending Mipcom Cannes sensed a wave of opportunity coming at them from across the Atlantic, as Hollywood muddles through a period of strategic uncertainty and steep losses from the transition to streaming platforms.
The extended labor strife in the U.S. this year, with the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA waging historic and concurrent strikes, has Euro producers touting the appeal of lensing on the continent with a strong pool of skilled talent accustomed to working at much lower price points.
Also looming over Mipcom was the intense security protocol deployed around the Palais and headlines of bomb scares in France. The country has been on high alert in the wake of Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and the murder of a high school teacher a few days later. Despite the tense geo-political backdrop, the overall mood of marketgoers seemed livelier than last year, which was still marked by the pandemic.
Private conversations this week with a host of savvy players large and small confirmed that producers from outside the U.S. have watched closely the rollercoaster drama of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Distributors and sales agents have been left wanting in many cases as the production shutdown forced delays in the planned release of TV programs and films. At the same time, Paramount Global and other big distributors showed up in a big way to Mipcom, pledging to be back in the market for bespoke content licensing deals. Disney also made its presence felt outside the Palais.
“People seem to be back and buying, which is good,” said Lisa Kramer, president of international TV licensing for Paramount Global Content Distribution. “We’ve been having very active interest and conversations about large-volume deals. We’re feeling very optimistic about 2024.”
With streamers pulling back on the production of originals, the top Mipcom acronym was IP. The market kicked off with a reboot of “Zorro” which Mediawan Rights is selling, along with an English-language series adapted from Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” starring an international cast led by Sam Claflin (“Daisy Jones and the Six,” “Peaky Blinders”). Retaining rights over IP’s is also the crux of the battle. “Monte Cristo,” which is now filming with Palme d’Or winning director Bille August, is the first show that’s fully produced, financed and repped by Mediawan thanks to its partnership with private equity film Entourage Ventures.
While a handful of foreign-language series such as “Lupin” have become global phenomenon, big European groups are more than ever interested in playing a key role in producing and financing ambitious English-language shows that can be exported around the world. Studiocanal, for instance, is making “Paris Has Fallen,” an action series adapted from the Gerard Butler-led “Fallen” film franchise which will mark Studiocanal’s first series available to all Canal+ subscribers across all global territories. Big Euro kids IPs were also trending at Mipcom, for instance “The Adventures of Paddington,” whose third season was launched by Studiocanal.
Elsewhere, Latin American behemoth Globo announced a first international version of its mega-hit “Brazil Avenue.”
Angela Colla, Globo’s head of international business and co-productions, said the tightening of purses and escalating production costs has made co-production more vital than ever. “The future is all about partnerships,” said Colla. Citing the international remake deal on Globo megahit “Brazil Avenue,” with Turkey’s Ay Yapim, Colla said “When we partner with strong companies, it’s always the best for everyone.” “Co-productions, format deals adaptations: exchange of content. Whatever we can do together, it’s always going to be the best,” she continued.
Over at Banijay Rights, Cathy Payne said the company was also making “continued efforts globally to retain our rights.” “Through times like these, finished tape, catalogue licensing and a focus on single IP fast channels provides consistency,” said Payne. “And in the latter, we continue to grow, and will have 200 FAST channel streams live by end of year,” the executive continued.
FAST (free advertiser-supported television) channels were indeed the talk of Mipcom, with a dedicated summit organized during the market with speakers from companies like Little Dot Studios and Banijay and loads of announcements being made. Pluto TV, for instance, made deals with BBC Studios to roll out the “Top Gear FAST” in the EMEA region, and with Fremantle to distribute dedicated channels to chef Jamie Olivier. ZDF Studios, meanwhile, made a pact with Hispanic media group Castalia Communications to have them launch a FAST service boasting ZDF titles for the Latin American region.
Meanwhile, specialized producer-distributors such as Germany’s Telepool and Israel’s Dori Media came to Mipcom this year with big ambition.
The Dori Media team is shaken by the outbreak of war in Israel. Nadav Palti, the company’s CEO, was one of the rare Israeli industry executives who was able to attend the market in the South of France. Out of 70 Israeli delegates who had registered for Mipcom, most skipped the event or sent their European staff.
Palti is a former commander in the Israel Defense Forces, whose 34-year-old son is in the IDF reserves. He considered backing out of Mipcom, but ultimately chose to proceed to keep as much order as possible in Dori’s ambitious agenda for the coming year. Palti knew he might regret the decision to travel to Cannes but simply refused to knuckle under to the terror.
“If we let our enemy dictate our life or dictate what we are doing — they win. We’ll not let them win. Winning is not only on the battlefield, it’s a 360-degree operation,” said Palti. “We have to continue. If not, they will win.”
Dori Media brought a host of high-octane new dramas to the marketplace, including “Amia” and “Indal,” both edgy political thrillers. The response from buyers was strong and Palti expects to clinch solid deals in key territories for both shows.
Telepool, headed by CEO Yoko Higuchi-Zitzmann, is making a big bet on a costume drama limited series “Davos 1917,” featuring German star Dominique Devenport. The series is a co-production with German broadcaster ARD and a string of other labels. It’s the kind of lush historical drama that is catnip to streamers looking to serve global audiences.
Among the notable deals from the Oct. 16-19 conference:
*Eva Longoria and Cris Abrego launched Hyphenate Media Group, backed by Banijay.
*Warner Bros. Discovery confirmed it will be launching its streaming service Max in France, following a rollout in 22 countries across the Nordics, Iberia, Spain, the Netherlands and Central Eastern Europe in the spring, said Gerhard Zeiler, WBD president of international.
*Paramount announced a new multi-year tie-up with Greece’s Cosmote TV, Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish, Mipcom Personality of the Year talking up the power of “new age” local and regional content licensing partnerships after accepting his award.
*The Mediapro Studio revealed it is heading to the Sahara for ‘The Head,’ Season 3 as it aims to drive into English-language production in the U.S.
*’Sisi’ producer Story House Pictures in Germany unveiled it aims to adapt ‘The Book of Longings,’ about the wife of Jesus of Nazareth, a powerful IP project.
*Studiocanal unveiled sales for Xavier Dolan’s ‘The Night Logan Woke Up,’ including Netflix for the U.S.
*AGC Television confirmed it has boarded ‘Amapola’ exploring the true origins of the drug trade.
*’The Long Shadow,’ about serial killer Peter Sutcliffe, sold to Sundance Now in U.S.,and buyers worldwide.
*Turkey’s Madd Entertainment unveiled sales, production pacts with Paramount – an expanded volume deal for Argentina, Chile – Cris Morena, The Mediapro Studio, Globo, and Secuoya.
*Sam Heughan Thriller ‘The Couple Next Door’ was sold by Beta Film to Spain and the Nordics.
*’Gangs of London’ Season 3 is starting production with director Kim Hong Sun and writer Peter McKenna.
*Viaplay Content Distribution is partnering with Germany’s ARD on adventure series ‘Ronja the Robber’s Daughter,’ among other titles.
*Sky Italia introduced at Mipcom the “Overlooked Serial Killer” docuseries.
*Cineflix Rights confirmed deals on ‘Last King of The Cross,’ ‘Reginald the Vampire,’ ‘Sugar.’
*Former HBO Max exec Christian Toksvig is launching Cocoa Media to bring a large Turkish drama library to global FAST channels.
*Terra Mater Studios is moving into fiction with historical series ‘Salon of Sugar.’
Marta Balaga contributed to this report.