Hello Insiders, Tom Grater here delivering a newsletter packed full of the week’s most important headlines from across the film and TV world.
Series Mania Delivers Optimism
Full of positivity: Series Mania is winding down today (although the prestigious International Competition winner is still to be announced) and it’s been a week full of optimism. European creatives and industry execs were out in droves for the first major festival that was almost entirely restriction-less. There was the odd teething problem (seeking press badges was akin to a joyless treasure hunt and patchy wi-fi was a constant talking point) but gone are the days of tests and masks and the delegates were loving it, with several well attended parties taking place when the sun went down.
Keeping it “local”: The message to take away from the forum sessions was loud and clear. The streamers and studios are in Europe and they want content, content, content. The heads of Amazon, WarnerMedia, HBO Max and Paramount+ on the continent each reiterated their desire for “local” programing to the point it was imprinted in delegates’ brains. The packed HBO Max session was of particular interest and many were turned away at the door, as HBO Max Content boss Antony Root introduced his commissioning team for the first time, along with his desire to “broaden HBO Max’s appeal beyond the die-hard Euphoria fan.”
Indies fight back: But it wasn’t only the deep-pocketed SVoD players setting the tone. Deadline revealed early Tuesday that in-demand Call My Agent! writer Quoc Dang Tran has struck a first look deal with Universal International Studios, while a group of the biggest European production house bosses debated why talent are choosing studios over streamers when it comes to these deals. “We’re agnostic and can work with everyone,” said Banijay’s Lars Blomgren.
Read this: The glamorous event took place against the backdrop of the now-month-old war in Ukraine and its ripples were felt. Speaking to Deadline, this year’s Jury President Julia Sinkevych, a Ukrainian native, spoke of the strangeness of being surrounded by lavish parties and dinners when only recently she was helping with the relief effort and sheltering from Russian bombs. “You do what you can do best and being here [in Lille] is an important part of my profession,” she tells Max. Julia’s full interview is here.
Pulling No Punches
“A betrayal”: Influential Ukrainian film producer Denis Ivanov is incredibly frustrated by the international film community’s response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of his country. Speaking to Deadline from Kyiv, where he is working and volunteering despite the imminent danger, he told us that films festivals declining to join a boycott of Russian films, called for by the Ukrainian Film Academy, is “a betrayal”. Read the fiery full interview here.
Doing your duty: Ivanov is not alone in his take. Algirdas Ramaška, director of the Vilnius International Film Festival, told us that festival organizers had a duty to do “everything they can” while the conflict rages.
View from inside: We invited Russian novelist and journalist Dmitry Glukhovsky to pen a guest column this week to discuss how Putin’s propaganda has taken hold of his fellow countrymen.
On the ground: Veteran foreign affairs correspondent Hollie McKay was back with another first-hand account of the conflict.
Cannes Unveils New Prez
Change of leadership: With Cannes president Pierre Lescure set to step down after this year’s festival, Iris Knobloch, the former boss of WarnerMedia France and Germany, has been named as his replacement.
When in Rome: The sprawling legal fallout from the fatal shooting of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins may be ongoing, but star Alec Baldwin is getting back on the acting horse, heading to Rome to appear in a couple of Christmas comedies.
‘Godzilla Vs Kong’ Sequel Heads Down Under
Rematch: A currently untitled sequel to 2021 blockbuster Godzilla Vs Kong has been set to shoot in Queensland, Australia, according to a local government agency. The film has yet to be confirmed by producer Legendary, but director Adam Wingard told Deadline last year he would “absolutely love to continue” with the franchise. More.
China Set For Oscars Blackout (Again)
Snub: With the 2022 Oscars just days away, it looks like China will not be airing the ceremony for the second year in a row. Nancy had the deets.
Ambitious plans: The latest edition of our International Disruptors interview series focuses on Jane Tranter, the founder of His Dark Materials producer Bad Wolf. She tells Diana Lodderhose about her future ambitions under the company’s deal with Sony Pictures Television. Read more.
🌶️ Hot one of the week: Take That movie Greatest Days is coming together ahead of filming next month. Andreas had the details on cast, financiers and distributors.
🌶️ Another one: Crazy Rich Asians 2 has found a new writer, Max had the scoop.
🌶️ Another one!: Game of Thrones and 300 star Lena Headey is set to make her directorial debut, more details from Andreas.
🚚 On the move: Universal has hired veteran PR exec and former journalist Cathy Dunkley as Vice President, Communications and Media Relations out of the UK.
🍿 Box office: The Batman is up to $298M international, with global standing at $598.1M through Sunday. More.
🎥 Done deal: Ash Avildsen’s Sumerian Records & Films has acquired independent comic book publisher and gaming company Behemoth Entertainment.
Max Goldbart contributed to this week’s International Insider.