MIPCOM: The Week in Drama

TV Drama Weekly recaps the deals that made headlines in the business of drama last week.

There was perhaps one overarching trend for the slew of drama news that came out of MIPCOM last week: the business is more international than it has ever been, with an array of cross-border collaborations and a never-ending parade of new players. Just look at the long list of celebs spotted along the Croisette—and the variety of projects they’re fronting. Kieran Bew, Ed Speleers and Joanne Whalley were in town to plug ITV’s lavish Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, which nabbed a U.S. slot on new drama buyer Esquire Network ahead of the market. Brit Iain Glen was in Cannes promoting the Australian drama Cleverman, repped by Munich-based Red Arrow International. The Monday night World Premiere TV Screening was the U.K./France co-pro The Last Panthers, featuring Samantha Morton, Tahar Rahim and Goran Bogdan. The Turkish power couple of Halit Ergenç (Magnificent Century) and Bergüzar Korel (Karadayi) were just two of several stars in town celebrating Turkey as the MIPCOM Country of Honour. Patrick Fugit came to Cannes to introduce Outcast, Robert Kirkman’s new drama commissioned by FOX International Channels for its 120-plus markets across the globe. Hong Kong action movie star Daniel Wu was on site at the Entertainment One (eOne) Television stand for AMC’s highly anticipated Into the Badlands. Also with eOne was James Purefoy, a British actor who plays a Texan in SundanceTV’s Hap and Leonard.

SundanceTV continues to make a name for itself as a home in the U.S. for distinctive drama from around the world. Fresh off its broadcast of the German-language Deutschland 83—which FremantleMedia International has since sold into a slew of new markets—the AMC Networks-owned channel signed on for the STUDIOCANAL/Sky Vision series The Last Panthers and Zodiak Rights’ RTÉ drama Rebellion.

Deutschland 83 wasn’t the only non-English-language drama making news. Eccho Rights expanded its slate of Turkish drama via an output deal with Surec FilmWorld Screen’s Anna Carugati moderated an informative session on why Turkish dramas are doing so well internationally, especially in Latin America, featuring Ay Yapim’s Kerem Çatay, Kanal D’s Pelin Diştaş Yaşaroğlu, Moses Productions’s Kim Moses, ITV-Inter Medya’s Can Okan and Megavision’s Juan Vicente. ZDF Enterprises sold five series totaling 44 hours of programming to the U.K.’s new on-demand foreign-language drama service Walter Presents, covering titles from Belgium, Sweden and Poland. ABC in the U.S. ordered a pilot script adaptation of the Austrian crime series Janus, distributed by ORF-Enterprise. FOX International Channels (FIC) inked a global deal for the exclusive first-window rights for the Israeli drama False Flag from Keshet International. Global Screen secured sales for its drama and crime series, including the newest season of The Weissensee Saga.

Indeed, a key trend out of the market was the rising prominence of European distributors as powerhouse providers of drama to the global market. The Missing was among a portfolio of prime-time dramas licensed by all3media international to broadcasters across Europe. France Télévisions acquired Paul Abbott’s No Offence from FremantleMedia International (FMI). TANDEM Productions, a STUDIOCANAL company, optioned Ken Follett’s spy novel Code to Zero for a TV adaptation. EuropaCorp Television Studios USA and Universal Television said they were teaming for a prequel to the hit feature-film franchise Taken for NBC. ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVS GE) sold a range of British and American dramas to South African SVOD platform ShowMax. Scripted has been at the heart of ITV’s transformation strategy, chief executive Adam Crozier revealed in his keynote interview with World Screen’s Carugati. CANAL+, Capa Drama, Zodiak Fiction and Incendo said that the upcoming epic drama series Versailles, a CANAL+ Création Originale, has already been renewed. Endemol Shine International clinched a high-profile U.S. slot for The Frankenstein Chronicles, which is headed to A&E Network.

U.S. drama from the Hollywood studios, meanwhile, also made plenty of headlines. Some 1,000 people waited patiently to get into the Grand Auditorium for the screening of episode one of FOX’s new The X-Files limited series and to hear from the show’s creator, Chris Carter. Japan’s WOWOW acquired the exclusive Japanese broadcast rights for the U.S. series The Player and Zoo. Crackle’s first original drama The Art of More, which had its world premiere at MIPCOM with cast members Dennis Quaid, Kate Bosworth, Cary Elwes and Christian Cooke, was picked up by broadcasters in 25 territories, including the Middle East. CBS Studios International (CBSSI) licensed the first-window broadcast rights for the new drama Limitless to Network Ten in Australia, FOX in Spain and TV2 in Norway, among other broadcasters. The studio was also showcasing Billions and a range of other premium programming from Showtime. In conversation with World Screen’s Carugati, Showtime’s David Nevins and CBS Global Distribution Group’s Armando Nuñez discussed the expansion of the premium channel’s brand and content across the globe in their Media Mastermind keynote. Disney Media Distribution announced the sale of ABC Studios’s The Catch to 186 territories, including the U.K., where it will air on Sky Living, which also acquired Limitless and Blindspot.

The booming drama business has prompted Reed MIDEM to launch the MIPDrama Screenings. Set to take place ahead of MIPTV, it will give buyers an exclusive first look at top scripted programming. An opening conference session will present the State of the Drama Industry, spotlighting breakout drama hits from major countries over the past six months, and offering an overview of the most successful imports. MIPDrama will then host screenings of curated new content with a particular focus on content from Europe, as well as other leading drama-producing territories.

All this drama is certainly a boon for broadcasters, but the crowded market does not come without its challenges, as the 2015 World Screen Content Trendsetters—Viacom’s Katie Keenan, MTG’s Jakob Mejlhede, FOX International Channels’s Jason Simms and SVT’s Christian Wikander—revealed in the Acquisition Superpanel. In conversation with Carugati, the four leading programmers discussed trends in drama, the battle for exclusive rights, the impact of OTT platforms and day-and-date premieres.

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