MIPCOM: The Week in Drama

The structural shifts at play in the global media business are impacting every sector, but the disruption has arguably been the most significant for those making and selling drama today. Between escalating production costs and the squeeze on budgets at both cash-strapped broadcasters facing challenging advertising headwinds and streamers in the midst of recalibrating their strategies, getting a greenlight, while never easy, has become ultra-arduous. And cobbling together the financing isn’t getting any more straightforward. But as the activity in the buzzy Seaview Producers Hub showed, executives in the business are looking for blue skies in the disruption.

That was the underlying message from a session I moderated at the Seaview Producers Hub spotlighting Banijay’s scripted ambitions and its approach to nurturing talent featuring Christian Wikander, global head of scripted; Alexia Laroche-Joubert, CEO of Banijay France; and Dominique Farrugia, the managing director of Shine Fiction.

“The streamers are looking for the territories they need, which means for us as a producer the possibility, again, to keep some rights and co-finance and window,” said Wikander. “And what is better than belonging to a group with many labels? You can work together. You can reach a tax system with a production in another territory. There’s a lot we can do.”

Distributors that have been able to hold onto their IP are expected to see a boost in acquisition activity amid the slowdown in commissioning. And MIPCOM did play host to plenty of news on that front, from prebuys to FAST deals for library fare.

Banijay Rights secured a presale with the BBC for the second season of the historical drama Marie Antoinette, one of the titles to hail from Laroche-Joubert’s Banijay France division. All3Media International secured the first round of international sales for New Pictures’ The Long Shadow across Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. It also inked a new deal with AMC Networks’ Acorn TV to bring a trio of recent drama titles to the U.S. streaming service, including the miniseries Mayflies. Paramount Global Content Distribution struck a deal with TF1 in France for Elsbeth, based on the character featured in The Good Wife and The Good Fight. Movistar Plus+ International’s La Mesías is headed to HBO in Latin America. Cineflix Rights closed several international deals for two returning series, including Last King of The Cross. Beta Film’s The Couple Next Door sold to Movistar Plus+, while Maxima was licensed to RTL Germany.

FAST, which has primarily been dominated by factual and lifestyle fare, is also emerging as an opportunity for distributors of scale. Of note, ZDF Studios aligned with Castalia Communications to develop a FAST service featuring Spanish-language drama programs for the LatAm region. Susanne Frank, Director Drama at ZDF Studios, noted: “We are very excited about this opportunity to work with an established partner and expert in this subject matter to bring our great catalog of programming to an interested audience in the Americas. We are convinced that this way, we will be able to open up completely new, interested target groups in the Spanish-speaking market.”

In addition, Cocoa Media, founded recently by HBO Max alum Christian Toksvig, inked a deal with Merzigo to bring Turkish dramas to major FAST platforms.

The continued interest in Turkish dramas was certainly on display throughout MIPCOM last week, with a raft of talent from the country on hand to promote new show launches. The Ivy made its official international premiere, where Inter Medya hosted stars Burçin Terzioğlu and Onur Tuna in Cannes. Global Agency also brought talent to Cannes, with Özcan Deniz promoting Red Roses and Burak Deniz and Hande Erçel participating in a press conference for Another Love. Eccho Rights sold Brave and Beautiful to M6 in France and sealed a deal with Warner Bros. Discovery for Golden Boy to stream on HBO Max in Latin America. MADD Entertainment, celebrating its fifth anniversary, announced partnerships with Paramount, Secuoya Studios, Cris Morena and Globo; revealed that it reached a new sales record for The Family, which has sold to more than 80 markets; and made deals with MBC Group for two of its series, including Wild Heart.

Asian dramas also saw traction at MIPCOM, with the GMA Network film The Cheating Game heading to Netflix; ABS-CBN bringing its prime-time action series The Iron Heart to Indonesia; and Mediacorp partnering with Taiwan’s TVBS to produce the new office romantic comedy Love on a Shoestring for release in 2024.

Greenlights are getting harder and harder to come by, but compelling new propositions are still getting the attention of commissioners. Last week saw Channel 5 greenlight the four-part thriller Coma (w.t.) from Roughcut Television and CBS Studios. Paul Testar, commissioning editor at Channel 5 and Paramount+, said: “Coma is a provocative thriller that asks the audience: What would I do? It’s the story of a good man who does one bad thing that causes his life to spiral out of control.”

Known IP also helps to cut through the clutter. Adi Hasak and Adi TV Studios unveiled the new family crime drama Karantina, an international production based on the ZDF format Tempel. Take Two Studios, Sagafilm and Story House Pictures teamed up to adapt the best-selling Finnish novel Hildur as a thriller and character-driven relationship drama for television. Big Light Productions landed the rights to the novel 29 Seconds, written by T.M. Logan.

And despite the industry’s challenges, IP owners are still finding ways to back talent. Cattleya, part of ITV Studios, and Gomorrah and ZeroZeroZero writers Leonardo Fasoli and Maddalena Ravagli partnered to co-found the new production company Dedalus. It is already working on Erba, a TV series based on real murders that horrified Italy in 2006, and Everything We Ever Wanted, a theatrical feature about a ’70s Neapolitan mob.

Catch up on these stories and more on TVDrama.com.