International Insider: Series Mania Deep Dive; Vietnamese Cinema Shake-Up; Jonathan Glazer Backlash

Good afternoon Insiders, Max Goldbart here. We’ve been out in force in France this week. To read about our travels, plus plenty more, scroll down, and sign up here.

All That Mania

‘So Long, Marianne’ star Alex Wolff (left) with Series Mania boss Laurence Herszberg

Netflix pulls ahead: Anything but doom and gloom this week at the Lille Series Mania confab, which was buzzy as ever, cementing its place as a must-not-miss event in the ever-crowded TV market calendar. Big stars including Patricia Arquette, Jeremy Irons and Michael Chiklis headed to the city in northern France to tout wares and talk shop. Netflix execs were out in full force, pushing hard against the cross-industry contraction narrative by unveiling dozens of shows in the weeks leading up to the market — and unveiling two more, starring Isabelle Adjani and Famke Janssen — at its showcase. At a time when local content is being rowed back, the streamer was there to tell delegates that it is very much active in all corners of the world. Netflix remains “all in” while “worthy adversaries” seek to “dial back” their offerings, EMEA boss Larry Tanz told a packed Grand Theatre — an unusually bullish sentiment from someone so senior at a streamer. Tanz, who also criticized local content quotas for “stifling creativity,” cut a relaxed figure, chatting to press afterwards at a Netflix event around the corner from the Palais and delving deep into his strategy. The timing of The Crown’s record BAFTA TV noms haul could not have been better. Rivals, mind you, may dispute Tanz’s “dialling back” notion and were keen to challenge the idea that Netflix is the only local game in town. Disney+ commissioners were on hand to unveil four shows, including, intriguingly, a 70-episode telenovela-style series coming out of Spain titled Return to Las Sabinas, which will drop Monday to Friday, while WBD’s Max showcased a trio of French shows and released its long-awaited Euro launch date. But, anecdotally, it really was Netflix that was enthusing the producers and creatives trampling the halls of the Palais. Paramount+, which recently yanked a whole raft of international originals, was notably absent. Banijay Rights boss Cathy Payne, who has a birds’ eye view of the streaming market at the helm of the Black Mirror seller, felt that the streamers will return to proper bulk commissioning only once they “break even.”

Europe on top as U.S. flails: No one is pretending that the current situation is easy — just ask the local freelance communities struggling for work — but Series Mania is a fine antidote in that it continues to nurture a reputation as the place where projects germinate. The much-anticipated Co-Pro pitches were packed, as projects made their way through tough jury rounds and audiences keen to see where the next big hit is coming from watched on with interest. In the end, it was Slovakian drama Our People, based on the grim true-life tale about the killing of a journalist and his fiancée, that took home the prize. One to keep eyes on. Other big-name panel sessions featuring the likes of BBC Studios and ZDF Studios extolling the virtues of partnerships and co-productions, and broadly there was a feeling that Europe is the place to be right now to both make TV and secure larger portions of funding. This would, of course, not be a TV event in 2024 without plenty of chatter of the problems currently being experienced in the U.S. market. Two senior producer sources, who had recently been on pitching sprees to the States, separately described the situation across the pond as “grim” (check out our LA team’s insightful Hollywood Contraction series for more). Shows in Europe, meanwhile, like Mediawan’s Count of Monte Cristo and Zorro adaptations, starring the likes of Jeremy Irons, Jean Dujardin and Sam Claflin, are speaking for themselves. A trio of French broadcasting bosses were also on hand to talk up streaming and collaboration in the nation, one of whom — TF1’s Rodolphe Belmer — announced that the commercial broadcaster would be launching its streamer outside of France. Back in the UK, The Crown EP Andy Harries’ rallying cry around the need to avoid becoming a “service industry” to Hollywood felt rather timely.

The small screen: I sat down with Irons and Count of Monte Cristo director Billie August to talk about the landmark adaptation, and within 30 seconds and pretty much unprompted they had revealed to me their red lines. “I wouldn’t have taken it if it was a movie, it had to be TV,” the two-time Palme d’Or winning director August told me, before Irons said TV can do “these great novels justice” in a way that some movies can’t. While the film-to-TV path is nothing new in today’s streaming age, the decorated pair were two of a number of high-profile stars talking up the switch at Series Mania. Woman of Honor Patricia Arquette delivered a rousing masterclass discussing why she had taken to network television in the early 2000s — “I thought, how do I entertain old people in an old folks home or people in a trailer park?” These celebrations of the small screen came as Series Mania’s high-profile Seriesmaker prize for movie types sidestepping into TV was handed to Kevin Macdonald, an Oscar-winner looking to make a TV show about British double agents. Competition series Apples Never Fall, meanwhile, is Annette Bening’s first major TV gig and will do battle later today with the likes of So Long, Marianne starring Alex Wolff, this week’s Global Breakout House of Gods and Chris Brancato’s Hotel Cocaine for that coveted prize. Keep checking in on that one as it will be revealed later. Oh, and if you have time to read one more thing, check this extraordinary rant from a man who’s career has run the full film-to-TV gamut, Peter Mullan, who roasted Kevin Spacey and “weird” Lord of the Rings fans in what was undoubtedly the most entertaining of the masterclasses. The TV events landscape is changing (chatter around MIP TV’s future remains undimmed) but one thing’s for certain — Series Mania remains very much central. Check out all our coverage from the week over here.

International Spotlight On Cannes

Part two: Mel turned the spotlight on international, mainly non-English-language fare, for our second Cannes Film Festival preview, which came as the fest basks in the warm glow of Oscar wins for 2023 Palme d’Or winner Anatomy of a Fall and Grand Jury Prize winner The Zone of Interest. Thierry Frémaux and his team are furiously tying up the 2024 Official Selection and Mel had a go at predicting what we might be seeing when the fest kicks off in two months’ time. Without wanting to give too much away, some of the hottest tips she unearthed included Audrey Diwan’s reimaging of Emmanuelle (pictured), Eric Khoo’s Spirit World and Tunisian director Mehdi Barsaoui’s Aïcha. The full piece is well worth a read and you can find Andreas’ first part, which speculates on the likes of Yorgos Lanthimos’ new movie Kinds Of Kindness and Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis, over here. Another film noted in that piece, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, has been confirmed for the event.

Shaking Up Vietnamese Cinemas

Minh Bui

Beta Group

Beta pricing: Our Asia expert Liz Shackleton has been spotlighting Vietnam in recent weeks and she headed to Ho Chi Minh city to talk to Minh Bui, whose Beta Cinemas has introduced a new concept of affordable but trendy theatres to the country’s fast-growing cinema market. Along with handing over a delicious tub of caramel popcorn, Minh talked Liz through how he launched the company, his business model and ambitions for the future. The former commodities broker’s story is a fascinating one. “I saw that the vast majority of Vietnamese people don’t have enough income to pay that much for a movie ticket, let alone also buy popcorn and drinks, so I wanted to create a product that could disrupt the market and build a mass market business,” Minh told Liz. Dive deeper here, and if you haven’t had a chance to read Liz’s state-of-play assessment of the Vietnamese market from last month, that one is here.

BAFTA Crowns Netflix

'The Crown'


Hefty haul: Netflix’s week only got better when the BAFTA TV Award nominations were unveiled Wednesday. While garnering mixed reviews with critics and of course adding a dose of controversy, The Crown’s swansong season led the pack, picking up eight nods, including a quad of actors featuring Dominic West and Elizabeth Debicki. Other Netflix shows were sprinkled throughout the noms list, including Black Mirror and Top Boy, leading to a record haul of 35 for the streamer. The BBC will of course point to the fact that its 65 nominations are almost double that of Netflix, but the streamer will have been delighted to pip local stalwarts ITV and Channel 4. There were certainly some snubs and surprises on the list, as Jake pointed out in his round-up, amongst them nods for lesser-known actors such as Anjana Vasan and Nico Parker, while Imelda Staunton and Gary Oldman were the main heavyweights who missed out. Succession’s Sarah Snook does not feature, but she is ineligible due to her not being British nor living/working regularly in the UK.

Hollywood Responds To Glazer

The Zone of Interest wins Best International Feature Film Oscar


Lots of interest: Response to The Zone of Interest director Jonathan Glazer‘s Oscars speech started off like a ripple and has now reached tidal wave. The condemnation letter against the Brit director’s words has comfortably topped the 1,000-person signature mark, while several — although not close to 1,000 — have thrown their weight behind Glazer. In some senses, the letter wasn’t hugely surprising given how much behind-closed-doors debate Glazer’s topical acceptance speech had fueled. While this newsletter isn’t going to get into the complex ins and outs of what is a highly nuanced debate, a reminder that Hollywood stars including Eli Roth and Amy Sherman-Palladino mainly took issue with Glazer’s line that read: “We stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people… whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack on Gaza.” The letter draws from Glazer’s words and hits back with: “We refute our Jewishness being hijacked for the purpose of drawing a moral equivalence between a Nazi regime that sought to exterminate a race of people, and an Israeli nation that seeks to avert its own extermination.” The situation could be debated until the cows come home and is a timely reminder of the way in which the horrifying conflict, which is nearing the six-month mark, continues to fan flames. Pete Hammond’s roundup of Academy Award political controversies is also worth a read.

The Essentials

Idris Elba, Mo Abudu, Seal, Nse Ikpe-Etim & Constance Olatunde

Nicky Hamilton/Kelechi Amadi Obi/Getty/Courtesy

🌶️ Hot One: Idris Elba is set to direct singer Seal and a clutch of Nollywood stars in Dust to Dreams with Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife.

🌶️ Another: The Barracks Thief from Tobiass Wolff will be adapted for the screen.

📖 Storyhouse: Diana has been in Dublin for the inaugural fest, where Tony McNamara, Emma Norton and scribes on True Detective have been delivering masterclasses.

🖼️ Slate: From Prime Video India, with a mega 69 movies and shows as Mike Hopkins revealed India is driving more Amazon subs than anywhere bar the U.S.

🍿 Box office: Korean horror Exhuma roared toward 10 million admissions, per Sara Merican.

📹 Casting: Drive My Car’s Tōko Miura is leading The Walking Dead maker Skybound’s Heart Attack in Japan.

💸 Bonuses: Channel 4 bosses will accept them this year amidst a 250-staff layoff program.

🎭 Awards: Happy Valley won big at the BPGs.

🤝 Done deal: YMU, the UK agency that reps Simon Cowell, confirmed its sale to private lending firm Permira Credit.

🤝 More deals: BBC Studios bought The Newsreader maker Werner and Spain’s Brutal Media.

👑 Royal palava: Click here to read about a ridiculous week in the world of Kensington Palace.

🤬 Excuse me?: The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will hand higher age ratings to films that depict violence and on-screen sex and nudity.

🎥 Trail: For Scoop, as Rufus Sewell’s Prince Andrew and Gillian Anderson’s Emily Maitlis do battle.

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