Hello and welcome to International Insider, I’m Jake Kanter. This is your weekly guide to all the news worth knowing about the global film and TV biz. Please do get in touch with feedback or stories on [email protected] And to get this delivered directly to your inbox every Friday, sign up here.
Netflix & Amazon Data Demand
Give us your data: Here’s a story to keep an eye on over the coming months: the UK government has taken the unusual step of intervening in a debate around data, calling on the likes of Netflix and Amazon to disclose viewing figures for shows originated by British public service broadcasters, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5. The idea was first floated by lawmakers of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and ministers agreed that media regulator Ofcom could benefit from the information.
International Insider: Cannes Market Heats Up; #MeToo Momentum; B-Side’s A-List Launch; Bectu Scandal
Why the data is in demand: UK public service broadcasters are fighting for relevance in a market increasingly dominated by U.S. media giants and are looking for new ways to measure their impact beyond traditional TV ratings. The streamers’ vast libraries are enriched by content that started life on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5. Think shows like Peaky Blinders, Fleabag, The End of the F***ing World (pictured), and Unforgotten. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s theory — apparently shared by the government — is that UK broadcasters should get credit for this when Ofcom assesses the health of the British TV landscape.
Will the data be divulged? The government wants streamers to hand over viewing figures “on a voluntary basis in the first instance.” This leaves open the possibility that ministers could legislate data sharing if the streamers are unwilling to be transparent, which is a very real possibility given how closely they guard what they consider to be highly commercially sensitive information. Netflix and Amazon declined to comment. The battle lines have been drawn. Go deeper.
Cannes Market Packages
Hot ones: Another week, another crop of hot feature projects to summerise ahead of the Cannes market. Jewels we have reported on in recent days include The Lobster stars Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell reuniting in Todd Solondz’s comedy-drama, Love Child, while following the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Andreas Wiseman got wind of Talitha Stevenson’s Cornish romantic-drama Late In Summer, which will star BAFTA-winner Emily Watson and Suicide Squad actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Andreas also revealed that Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) and Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip) are set to produce musical dance dramedy Throw It Back. In another eye-catcher, Ewan McGregor, Sam Heughan, and Mark Strong have been set to star in Everest, an adventure thriller directed by Doug Liman. Keep up with all the Cannes news right here.
Kiwi film criticized: One hot package we reported on last week has lost considerable heat. Since being announced, Rose Byrne-led They Are Us, about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s response to the 2019 Christchurch mosques massacre, has been widely criticized. On Monday, producer Philippa Campbell, whose credits include Top Of The Lake, backed off the project and apologized for her involvement. “The events of 15 March 2019 are too raw for film at this time and do not wish to be involved with a project that is causing such distress,” Campbell said. Full story here.
Disney’s Hump Day
Scheduling switch: When Disney+ dropped the first episode of Loki on Wednesday last week, it failed to mention that the premiere date signaled a shift in strategy. You see, Friday has always been Disney’s drop day, but now the streamer will allow users to feast on new delights from the middle of the week. The switcheroo officially begins next month and applies to all original series globally, meaning the likes of Growing Up Animal, a natural history series from the UK’s Wall To Wall (first teased by yours truly), will get a Wednesday bow. Movies will stick to Fridays. Peter White had the story.
Wednesdays are the new Fridays: As Disney+’s originals slate ramps up, the streamer is ensuring there is a decent spread of new stuff throughout the week. It also moves its original series away from Netflix, which also traditionally drops new releases on a Friday. Although this is changing for Netflix too. Notably, the streamer made noise about premiering reality shows The Circle and Too Hot To Handle on Wednesdays, with the latter landing next week.
In other Disney news, it was confirmed this week that the long-gestating Gaston & LeFou Beauty and the Beast prequel series is a go, and we were told that Peter Jackson’s much-anticipated Beatles documentary, The Beatles: Get Back, will debut in two-hour episodes over three days from November 25. Disney also announced an EMEA animation slate at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, including Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire, a 10-part sci-fi anthology executive produced by Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse co-director Peter Ramsey.
BBC Faces Music Over Diana
A festival of DGs: If a soundtrack of BBC incompetence and crisis is your thing, then Tuesday was a bit like Glastonbury, as three current and former director generals faced the music over the scandalous 1995 Princess Diana interview. All helped themselves to large portions of humble pie as they were grilled by lawmakers of UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee about Martin Bashir forging documents in order to secure access to the Princess of Wales.
Hall-ed over the coals: Tony Hall was subject to the most forensic cross-examination, having been in charge of the BBC’s newsroom at the time of Panorama’s Diana scoop, and director general when Bashir was rehired by the corporation in 2016. Hall oversaw an internal investigation into Bashir’s actions in 1996, which exposed the fake documents but did not uncover the full extent of his deceit. Asked why Bashir was not fired on the spot, Hall said he gave the reporter a second chance because he had been “contrite.” On Bashir’s return to the BBC, he added: “If we knew then what we know now then, of course, he wouldn’t have been rehired.”
Bashing Bashir: Quote of the day came from John Birt, who was director general in 1995. Reflecting on “serial liar” and “skilled confidence trickster” Bashir’s BBC career, he said: “There is a terrible irony in all of this because [Bashir] starts his BBC career on Songs of Praise and ended as the BBC’s religious editor. And in between, perpetrates one of the biggest crimes in the history of broadcasting.” Here’s our story on Tuesday’s hearing.
Building back better: In comments on Thursday, the government said the BBC “must act fast to restore trust” following the scandal. “The BBC needs to improve its culture to ensure this never happens again and that means a new emphasis on accuracy, impartiality and diversity of opinion,” it said in a submission to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. The government has previously pledged to review the BBC’s governance arrangements in light of the Bashir affair.
Netflix’s Canada Ambitions
Sweet on the home of maple syrup: Netflix doubled down on its commitment to Canada on Monday as co-CEO Ted Sarandos spoke at the Banff World Media Festival. The streamer has previously pledged to open a new office in the Great White North, as well as hire a content chief dedicated to commissioning local originals. “We want to be even more aggressive about telling even more Canadian stories,” Sarandos told Banff delegates on the same day Netflix promised to bolster women working in Canada’s animation sector through a partnership with Women in Animation Vancouver. Peter White had the story.
Offices everywhere: Netflix has spent $2.5 billion CAD ($2B) in Canada since 2017, with local originals including Anne With An E and Workin’ Moms. The Canadian office builds on Netflix’s growing international presence. The company opened a French base last year, while it is on track to set up in Italy in the second half of 2021. It has other international headquarters in the UK, Netherlands, India, Mexico, and Australia.
📽️ In the frame: Above is the first look at ITV’s bomb squad drama Trigger Point. Starring Line Of Duty’s Vicky McClure, the series is made by Jed Mercurio’s production company HTM Television.
🍿 International box office: Family comedy-drama Dad, I’m Sorry (Bo Gia) has now surpassed the $1M mark, becoming the first Vietnamese-produced title to reach that milestone. Nancy Tartaglione has the details.
🗣️ Deadline’s International Disruptors: Our Diana Lodderhose kicked off a new Deadline feature this week, spotlighting key executives and companies outside of the U.S. shaking up the offshore marketplace. She starts with a deep dive into French cinematic institution MK2. Full piece.
📝 International Critics Line: Anna Smith watched Snotty Boy, an animated biopic of cult cartoonist Manfred Deix, showing at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival. Click here for her review.
🇮🇹 Venice bags a big one: The Venice Film Festival has confirmed that Denis Villeneuve’s Dune will make its world premiere out of competition at the 78th edition in September. Nancy has more.
⚽ Euro 2020 ratings: We’ll be bringing you the biggest ratings headlines from Euro 2020, starting with the news that France vs Germany scored la République’s highest TV audience since 2020. More here.
🚚 On the move: Eli Shibley, Westbrook Studios’ head of international film and TV, is exiting Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s company to launch new production banner Major Content. Andreas Wiseman had the scoop.
🚚 Another on the move: Amazon Studios has promoted its British unscripted chief Dan Grabiner to head of UK originals. He oversees shows including The Grand Tour and Clarkson’s Farm. Full story.
🎦 Trailer dash: Netflix released a trailer for its three-part documentary on Sophie Toscan Du Plantier, the French film and TV producer who was killed while at her isolated holiday cottage in West Cork, Ireland, in 1996. We got the first look.
📺 One to watch: Our Pete Hammond watched Edgar Wright’s documentary on Sparks, The Sparks Brothers. “Wright has made a movie that serves its subjects with reverence and irreverence because Sparks not only makes its mark musically, but also comically,” he writes. It premieres in the U.S. today before a wider international rollout. Read Pete’s review here.
GB Bruised: It’s been a mixed first week for Britain’s new news channel GB News. On a positive note, the Discovery-backed venture made its mark in the ratings stakes, beating market leaders BBC News and Sky News with some of its early broadcasts. Less good has been the plague of tech gremlins and advertiser boycotts. Since its opening night, the channel has experienced consistent difficulties with sound, lighting, misspelled chyrons, misbehaving graphics, and lost connections to remote guests. The snafus spawned the Twitter account GBNews Fails, which went from naught to 60,000 followers in days and is merrily posting each error. As for GB News’ alternative, “anti-woke” agenda, primetime presenter Dan Wootton has presided over Tucker Carlson-style monologues about lockdowns not working and platformed a guest who downplayed Jeffrey Epstein’s pedophilia. Companies including Ikea and Vodafone are not impressed and yanked their ads from the channel, while 373 viewers complained to Ofcom. It may be broadcasting from a seemingly candle-lit studio in west London, but GB News will be hoping for brighter days ahead. Read our story.