Richard Gere, Sean Bean and Ben Stiller certainly had MIPCOM delegates clamoring for selfies as they hit Cannes last week to promote their latest projects (MotherFatherSon, Curfew and Escape at Dannemora, respectively). But so did the likes of Narcos showrunner Eric Newman, reflecting just how much the role of the executive producer and writer has been elevated in this booming drama business. Showrunners are stars themselves, commanding hefty fees from platforms and distributors eager to lock in the best talent in a market where it feels like the demand for quality storytelling is limitless.
Newman, Money Heist’s Álex Pina and The Young Pope and My Brilliant Friend’s Lorenzo Mieli were fêted in Cannes at the Talent Behind the Camera session moderated by World Screen’s Anna Carugati. The trio discussed shifting dynamics in the drama business, the importance of authenticity and the need for complicated characters before each receiving a World Screen Trendsetter Award in association with Reed MIDEM.
Besides insightful panels exploring the creative and financial challenges in drama today and a slew of screenings, there was, of course, plenty of deal-making happening in the Palais. And the span of agreements announced last week offers the best example of just how busy, and diverse, the drama business is right now.
European scripted, in particular, is in the midst of a heyday (despite troubling signs from pubcasters like DR that are scaling back their international drama ambitions in the wake of funding cuts). One pubcaster that is scaling up its scripted output is the BBC, which revealed last week that it is working with Sherlock’s Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss on Dracula, with Netflix taking the rights outside of the U.K. BBC also boarded TM International’s big-budget The Name of the Rose. Rai, too, is looking to make an impact with its high-end commissions, among them My Brilliant Friend, an HBO collaboration that Fremantle has sold to 50-plus territories.
ITV Studios Global Entertainment announced a raft of sales on high-end dramas like Vanity Fair and Poldark, plus presales on its much-anticipated The War of the Worlds. DRG secured a number of presales on its buzzy psychological thriller The Cry starring Victoria’s Jenna Coleman, who was in town to promote the show. DRG’s sister company AtriumTV, a drama commissioning club, unveiled its newest slate, which includes Cyrano, with Joseph Fiennes attached to star and executive produce. STUDIOCANAL sold the Italian book-based drama ZeroZeroZero to HBO Europe for the Nordics and CEE. ORF-Enterprise secured new deals on properties such as Fast Forward. all3media international was at MIPCOM talking about its first Scandi series, Blinded, while also landing deals on the new season of Agatha Raisin.
Turkish drama made plenty of headlines. During an exclusive event at Château de la Napoule, Global Agency introduced international buyers to Gulperi, with lead actors Nurgül Yeşilçay and Timuçin Esen on hand to talk about the new series from Tims&B Productions. Inter Medya announced new deals on Forgive Me and The Pit. And SPI International/FilmBox said it is launching Timeless Drama Channel (TDC), a new worldwide TV network devoted to Turkish drama series and movies.
Asian drama also took center stage last week, FOX Networks Group Asia, for example, announced it had landed the worldwide rights, excluding China, to the epic new production The Legend of Hao Lan from Huanyu Film. And One Life Studios revealed it sold its period drama Porus to Hulu Japan, which also licensed Imagina International Sales’ Locked Up.
Latin American companies, too, made plenty of announcements last week, among them Disney Media Distribution Latin America revealing a deal with Mediapro, BFT Media and Somos Productions for the new series Miracle Hunters. Mediapro also said it is working with VICE Studios to co-develop scripted series for Latin America.
Israel continues to exert its influence on the global scripted space, with Keshet International clinching a global deal with Netflix on When Heroes Fly, one of the selections at CANNESERIES earlier this year.
It was a big week for scripted-format adaptations, with announcements that included Shades of Blue creator Adi Hasak working on a U.S. version of the German series The Last Cop, a Korean version of BBC Studios’ Doctor Foster and a Chinese adaptation of Broadchurch. Plus, Medyapim in Turkey announced its fourth deal with Nippon TV, agreeing to adapt Oasis—A Love Story.
Co-productions remain key as budgets escalate. Sky Vision revealed a deal with Element 8 Entertainment to co-produce a new Jordan-set English-language crime thriller, Blood. Red Arrow Studios’ Endor Productions and Austria’s MR Film are co-producing the new drama series Vienna Blood, which will be distributed by Red Arrow Studios International. And ZDF joined the crime series The Sommerdahl Murders, alongside Dynamic Television, Sequoia and ndF.