Welcome to this week’s International Insider. Max Goldbart here bringing you the latest in what’s been a busy seven days in the world of international TV and film.
Cha Cha Leo Grande: This year’s virtual Sundance Film Festival draws to a close on Sunday and hopefully avid Deadline readers have been keeping abreast of our U.S. team’s fantastic coverage of all the biggest deals, reviews and hits. Some big international offerings have been making an impact over in the States and our own Mike Fleming Junior had two fantastic scoops on Wednesday, first revealing that Searchlight Pictures had closed a circa-$7.5M deal for U.S. rights to Emma Thompson pic Good Luck To You, Leo Grande and, hours later, telling the world about Apple’s global $15M grab for Cooper Raiff’s Cha Cha Real Smooth, starring Dakota Johnson. Searchlight won out ahead of several distributors and will release Leo Grande via Hulu, with hopes that Thompson, who plays retired schoolteacher and widower Nancy Stokes, could be up for awards contention. Cha Cha Real Smooth follows a directionless college graduate, also played by Raiff, who gets over his head in a relationship with a young mum and her autistic teenage daughter as he works a job party-starting bar and bat mitzvahs of his younger brother’s classmates. Intriguing. The Cha Cha deal is the biggest of the fest with just two days to go, although it falls $10M short of Apple’s Coda deal from the prior year.
Landing well: Meanwhile, global screenings were landing well at Sundance, with CNN Films/HBO Max’s secret and timely Navalny “documentary thriller” well received. The fly-on-the-wall feature was made completely in secret and charts the events surrounding the Russian opposition leader’s suspected Novichok poisoning. Check out a teaser here. Also well worth a read is Todd McCarthy’s review of Utama, Bolivian creator Alejandro Loayza Grisi’s debut feature, which aired as part of the World Dramatic Competition. “This is gorgeously made and brings to life a backwater existence in a distant land with skill and assurance,” writes Todd.
EFM Gears Up
Hot projects: It may be virtual (again) this year but the European Film Market has already begun to heat up, with the first of the high-profile packages arriving this week. Andreas had the scoop that Eric Bana and Kiernan Shipka are teaming for thriller Berlin Nobody (appropriate title) which comes from Scott Free, Augenschein and Protagonist. Elsewhere, Kevin Macdonald signed up to helm The Iceman starring Joseph Fiennes. We are hearing about several buzzy packages that are coming together ahead of the market so watch this space.
How it will work: While the festival deals with continually changing Covid restrictions, the fact the EFM is officially entirely online at least means everyone knows where they stand (virtually). Tom caught up with market chief Dennis Ruh this week to discuss his second edition at the helm – will the poor man ever actually be able to oversee one in person? Ruh says that delegate and exhibitors numbers are trending a little higher than last year, and that EFM will offer VOD catch-up screenings this time to make the huge selection of titles more navigable for attendees. Read the full interview.
Jury duty: Over at the festival, the juries were revealed this week, including who will join International Competition prez M. Night Shyamalan to decide the coveted Golden Bears.
World’s Simon Heath: International Disruptor
Reporting for duty: For this fortnight’s International Disruptor profile, I sat down with Simon Heath, CEO of Line of Duty producer World Productions, which secured the top three most-watched shows in the UK last year. Quite some feat. Simon is approaching his 25th year at one of the nation’s greatest production powerhouses but, to my surprise, he had never been profiled before. “[World Productions founder] Tony Garnett ‘didn’t do press’ and if you’ve got a boss like that you tend to follow the tradition,” explains Simon. Read on as he talks landing hits, the future of British broadcasting and the rather controversial Line of Duty season six closer.
Netflix’s “significant first step”: French cinema stakeholders have long been seeking to overhaul the nation’s arcane windowing system and they took a big step forwards this week. Signed off by Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot, the quid pro quo gives Netflix access to films 15 months after their theatrical release, versus the market’s lengthy 36-month waiting period. In return, the streamer, which is expanding internationally in a big way, will invest 40M euros to produce at least 10 local films per year. A Netflix spokesperson called the deal a “significant first step” and Canal+ reached a similar agreement in December. Disney+ and Amazon are not signatories but have fixed their windows at 17 months. Nancy had the news.
Coming Back To Linear
BBC Three’s a crowd: We are reaching “another layer of audience,” declared BBC Three boss Fiona Campbell as the youth-skewing channel gears up to return to linear TV six years after being taken off air. The move may appear to some a backward step in a world in which young viewers are becoming harder and harder to pin down. Speaking exclusively to Deadline, Fiona made her case. Go deeper.
To Sing Or Not To Sing
Sir Ian’s final wish: One might be mistaken into thinking that seven-time Laurence Olivier Award winner Sir Ian McKellen has done and seen it all but, speaking to the BBC this week, the Lord of the Rings and X-Men star revealed he wants to conquer a musical. Sir Ian has already played Gus in Tom Hooper’s critically-panned Cats but turns out he actually wants to hit some notes. The beloved UK star, who is nearly 83, said he often sings in the shower and is “available but incompetent.”
🌶️ Hot one of the week: Cast has been set for Amazon’s Good Omens season two. Dune’s Siân Phillips is in but big hitters Benedict Cumberbatch and Frances McDormand are out.
🌶️ Another one: Gangs of London producer Pulse Films has optioned the rights to budding British writer Moses McKenzie’s debut novel An Olive Grove in Ends. McKenzie will adapt.
🌶️ Another one: Hulu drama Washington Black has signed up another Dune star, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, along with A Discovery of Witches’ Edward Bluemel and newcomer Eddie Karanja.
🚚 On the move: BBC Studios Natural History Unit has poached Netflix-backed Freeborne Media’s Laura Harris and promoted Jess Colman
🚚 More moves: It’s a Sin exec Nicola Shindler’s Quay Street has doubled its staff numbers in one fell swoop, bringing in Anansi Boys exec Richard Fee and others from Shindler’s former outfit Red Production Company.
♚ Checkmate: Netflix failed in its attempt to dismiss its $5M Queen’s Gambit court battle with female chess icon Nona Gaprindashvili. Dom Patten had more.
🏪 Setting up shop: Studio Ramsay Global has opened a third hub in Glasgow, from where it will produce a second series of BBC One format Future Food Stars.
🏆Awards latest: Xavier Giannoli’s Illusions Perdues leads the 2022 César Awards noms list with Cannes Palme d’Or winner Titane coming in on the lower end.
🍿 Box office: Paw Patrol: The Movie crossed the $100M international threshold while Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast landed well in the UK and Ireland.
🎦 Trailer: Andreas had an exclusive first look at mafia origin series L’Ora (Ink Against Bullets).
🖼️ First look: AppleTV+ issued the debut images of Min Jin Lee’s Multigenerational Pachinko.
Tom Grater contributed to this week’s International Insider.