Afternoon Insiders. It’s been a big week in the world of international film and TV but we’ve got you covered. Read on for all the in-depth news and analysis.
BAFTA Noms Split The Crowd
Leading the pack: The 2022 BAFTA Film Awards nominations are in, with this year’s crop topped by Dune with 11 nominations, followed by The Power Of The Dog (pictured) on eight and Belfast on six. See them in full here. Overall, it was a varied and interesting selection, with a particularly eye-catching Best Director field that did not entirely line up with the Best Film category. That also happened last year, notably after BAFTA introduced a new voting system that sees nominations for particular categories, including Director, decided by jury rather than the wider voting pool.
The diversity question: Last year’s BAFTAs were all about whether the org would be able to address pressing diversity concerns, and the 2021 crop of nominees were heralded as a step in the right direction towards inclusivity. On the face of it, 2022 has prompted a realigning of expectations after last year’s major correction, but overall the trend does appear to be in a positive direction. Apple’s CODA star Troy Kotsur became the first deaf actor to be recognized at the Film Awards, for example, with a nod in Best Supporting Actor. However, sections of the industry believe the changes have made certain categories less representative of the wider BAFTA voting membership. More on that in Nancy’s analysis piece.
Snubs and surprises: No nods at all for Pablo Larrain’s Princess Diana pic Spencer came as a big surprise, with lead Kristen Stewart having been widely expected to make the cut. Further notable omissions include Nicole Kidman for Being The Ricardos and Olivia Colman for The Lost Daughter. See Andreas’s full write-up on the snubs.
Streamer scorecard: This year’s noms proved a more balanced split between studios and streamers than last time out, no surprise with cinemas back up and running. Netflix ruled the roost, while Apple scored its first nominations in major categories. Diana had the analysis.
Defying Covid: It’s BFI annual stats week and a fine bit of news for the UK’s film and high-end TV (HETV) sectors, which defied the Covid odds to grow rapidly in 2021 and post a record $7.6BN of production spend. A quick glance finds that HETV is where the growth is really at. Big hitters such as Bridgerton (pictured) and Call My Agent! led this genre to skyrocket to $4.1BN production spend, while big-budget Netflix one-offs such as Pinocchio, which count towards HETV, also helped. There was a time when film dominated these lists but that time is no more, and big budget TV now brings in almost three times the amount. Last summer, sources were indicating that the HETV sector was virtually at full capacity and a string of studios are set to open this year, while the long-awaited Lord of the Rings season two will soon roll the cameras at Berkshire’s Bray Studios.
Indie woes: A more in-depth examination of the stats shows that it is the big U.S. films and TV productions that are really making the difference this side of the Atlantic. While the majority of films that entered UK production in 2021 were domestic, spend generated from these films makes up a small proportion of the overall pie. This is also demonstrated in the box office figures, which saw the market share for UK independent film fall to 5%, down from 14% in 2020 and continuing the ongoing trend of box office domination for tentpole pics on Brit shores. The top grossing UK indie film of the year was technically The French Dispatch, which undertook some of its production in the country, and grossed £4.1M. No Time To Die led a more general box office recovery, attracting 16.4 million admissions and grossing a hearty £96.6M. As the world continues its long-awaited Covid recovery, all eyes will be on where these trends head next.
Icy reception: As Insider writes, the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics is taking place and Nancy Tartaglione and Dom Patten are covering in real time, with Nancy posting this coverage of filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s comments in the last few minutes. These games are the most controversial for many a year (well, since Russia 2014). Multiple major nations including the U.S., UK and Australia have instituted diplomatic boycotts and China’s human rights record, including its treatment of the Uyghur minority, has been placed firmly under the microscope. That being said, plenty will be watching.
A major European Discovery: U.S. viewers have this handy guide from my colleague Tom Tapp on where to tune in but, if you’re based in Europe, you’ll probably be using Discovery. The entertainment giant is live with coverage in 50 European territories via Discovery+, Eurosport Player and various local rights deals. It therefore felt timely for myself and Deadline’s U.S. business guru Dade Hayes to pen this analysis on how Discovery’s Winter Olympics play is reflective of major European ambitions.
Leaving DAZN: Even more timely was Discovery’s unveiling of a combined UK sports venture with the somewhat-ailing BT Sports, news that was unveiled just 24 hours before Beijing officially opened. Pending regulatory approval, the entity could be up and running by the end of this year and will pack quite a punch, bringing together major Olympics tournaments and the biggest games in football, tennis, golf and much more. But what a difference five days can make. At the start of the week, all the smart money in the world was on MIP TV headliner Kevin Mayer’s DAZN taking over BT Sport. By the end, Mayer was calling the deal “uneconomical,” as Discovery pipped his outfit to the post. This is one to watch.
“Levelling Up”: As if BAFTAs and BFI stats weren’t enough to keep up with, this week saw the UK’s Creative Coalition Festival 2022, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s “Levelling Up” ambitions to improve the creative industries in the nation’s forgotten towns and cities was firmly on the agenda. Embattled Culture Sec Nadine Dorries used her keynote to unveil a major review examining “how best to be inclusive and embed the creative industries within communities across the UK,” while Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio (pictured) blamed geographical and economic inequalities for creating a “polarized creative community.” Multiple other panels took place throughout the three days on a variety of topics with some huge names, including this fascinating session on bullying and harassment with Time’s Up UK Chair Heather Rabbatts, who urged government legislation to ban NDAs and help end the scourge. “The law (around NDAs) is being used to protect perpetrators and that makes no logical sense,” added campaigner Zelda Perkins, who was gagged by an NDA for 20 years after her friend fell victim to Harvey Weinstein. Elsewhere, the BFI unveiled plans to introduce Wellbeing Facilitators on all of its funded films, as it battles to make sure last year’s allegations levelled at Noel Clarke remain a thing of the past.
Berlinale Series Deep Dive
Sitting down with Julia Fidel: An International Insider without a shout out to Berlin wouldn’t be an International Insider so good thing I got to sit down with Berlinale Series head Julia Fidel this week, the woman tasked with promoting the festival’s efforts on the smaller screen. Along with seven other judges, one of Julia’s jobs involved whittling down 200 Berlinale Series entrants to just seven, and the result features an Argentinian spy escapade for Amazon, a touching French-Canadian dramedy and a Swedish HBO Max comedy about a group of middle-aged women’s sex lives. Julia talked Scandi developments, global trends (“TV writers have discovered Eastern Europeans are pretty cool”) and how television is becoming an ever-more important part of the festival. Read on.
Monica Vitti Remembered
Screen icon: Tributes poured in this week for Monica Vitti, the Italian screen icon known for a string of 1960s classics who died on Wednesday aged 90, having battled Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years. Vitti shot to fame following spectacular collaborations with legendary director Michelangelo Antonioni in the late 1950s and early 1960s, before starring in the likes of L’Avventura (1960), Red Desert (1964), L’Eclisse (1962) and La Notte (1961). Andreas penned an obit.
Tumburkai’s story: And finally, a most bizarre rights deal closed this week with Boies Schiller Entertainment winning out to tell the story of Abdullahi Tumburkai, a Nigerian farmer who rescued his two brothers from kidnapping and became a country-wide expert in these negotiations. “There are so many offers from Los Angeles, people contacting me every day,” he told Mike Fleming Junior. Intrigued? Go deeper.
🌶️ Hot one of the week: Laura Dern, Noah Jupe and Benedict Cumberbatch are set to star in Justin Kurzel sci-fi Morning.
🌶️ Another: Hot one from EFM as we revealed Gerard Butler action sequel Den Of Thieves 2: Pantera is gearing up for a late spring shoot in Serbia and France.
🌶️ Another: More EFM as Tom unveiled Fluke Studios wrapping production on prison break thriller Bosco, starring Aubrey Joseph, Theo Rossi and Thomas Jane.
🌶️ Not Another??: Scottish Conservatives have taken the unprecedented step of writing to their own party to urge UK Culture Sec Nadine Dorries not to privatize Channel 4.
🚚 On the move: Andreas brought news of Sharon Levi’s move to Fauda and Shtisel producer-distributor Yes Studios.
🚚 More moves: Endeavor Content-backed Scandi indie Nordic Drama Queens has signed Netflix’s The Playlist (Spotify Untold) producer Eiffel Mattsson.
🏪 Setting up shop: Dominic Ianno, John Baldecchi, Alex Dundas and Griffin Gmelich have partnered to launch LA-based Roundtable Entertainment.
🍿 Box office: China’s The Battle At Lake Changjin II had grossed £168M by Wednesday on Chinese New Year.
🎦 Trailer: Check out the first clip for Nick Cave doc This Much I Know To Be True.
🖼️ First Look: Glenn Close joins the cast of AppleTV+ espionage thriller Tehran.