International Insider: Cannes Contenders; London’s Time To Shine; Danish Diversity Debate; ITV Finances; Ken Loach Union Row

Hello Insiders. The international biz descended on the UK for the London TV Screenings this week, and we were there to cover it in full. Jesse Whittock here to guide you through all the film and TV news.

Cannes Contenders

‘Killers Of The Flower Moon,’ ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ and Johnny Depp as Louis XV in ‘Jeanne du Barry’
‘Killers Of The Flower Moon,’ ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ and Johnny Depp as Louis XV in ‘Jeanne du Barry’

The buzz starts now: It might still be 10 weeks’ away but things are starting to feel a little bit Cannes Film Festival already. First, Triangle of Sadness director and two-time Palme d’Or winner Ruben Östlund was unveiled as jury president for its upcoming 76th edition, 50 years after his Swedish compatriot Ingrid Bergman served in the role. Then Andreas and Mel dropped this mega rundown of 32 films we might be watching on the Côte d’Azur in May. Among them is Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, which teams two of the director’s favorite collaborators, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, and tells the story of the Osage Nation murders of the 1920s and the birth of the FBI. Seems locked on.

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Predictive text: Also in heavy contention are Ridley Scott’s NapoleonIndiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City. Our expert team noted the titles in contention provide encouragement Cannes will again be a platform for commercial films with global aspirations alongside buzz titles headed for the next awards season. Ken Loach (more on him below) will almost certainly debut The Old Oak, while the Johnny Depp and Maïwenn-starring Jeanne du Barry could be played on the Croisette, especially considering its French subject matter – Louis XV’s last royal mistress at the Court of Versailles. There’s a ton to dissect here, so grab some popcorn and read on.

London’s Time To Shine

London TV Screenings
L to R Bottom: ‘Lara vs. Escobar’, ‘Rising Star’, ‘Blackwater’. Top: London

Screen time: The London TV Screenings this week saw a whopping 26 distributors hosting events for international acquisitions execs. I’m old enough to remember when a few cheeky sales houses would quietly hold events in the UK’s capital in February, hoping to tempt buyers away from the BBC’s grand Showcase in Liverpool. Now look at them go. As we’ve reported before, many execs now see the sales event as second only to Mipcom Cannes. Further evidence for that is BBC Studios moving its event to London’s West End for the first time. While technically not part of the ‘official’ London TV Screenings events, the Showcase kicked off the week with a host of content agreements and talent deals with Nick Mohammed and Diane Morgan. Max spoke to the team behind comedy-thriller series Black Ops, which the Beeb was shopping on Monday and Tuesday, and also had an exclusive sit down with The Bridge creator Hans Rosenfeldt, whose big-budget adaptation of fantasy novel Ronja the Robber’s Daughter was on Viaplay’s sales slate. Fremantle debuted a new slate of formats and unveiled Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer will front South African series White Lies, while there was buzz at the Warner Bros International Television screening about Korea’s next singing competition series Sing Again, which we revealed has landed a third season locally on JTBC and Discovery+. Several U.S. sellers were in town for the Screening, with Fox Entertainment Global decamping for the first time since its inception with shows such as Krapopolis and Animal Control. Fox scripted chief Michael Thorn told Max animated series Krapopolis could yield the next Homer Simpson, something that would delight buyers if it came to pass.

Until next year: Overall, there’s a been a mixed response to the new shows on offer, with nothing immediately standing out, but we’ll be checking in with buyers and reporting back with the latest. And make sure to go back and read our London TV Screenings digital mag for the event if you missed it earlier this week, featuring great features, slates and scene-setters. You can find all our web coverage here.

Danish Diversity Debate

The Bigger Picture: Over to Zac Ntim for this report… A controversial debate about diversity has been brewing within the Danish film and TV industry following the publication of a new visual campaign by the diversity action group ‘A Bigger Picture’ (Et Større Billede). The group, which was initiated by actress Sandra Yi Sencindiver (Bäckström), last month released a series of images online that recreated the posters from three high-profile Danish productions: Fathers and Mothers by Paprika Steen, Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom series, and Thomas Vinterberg’s upcoming TV2 series Families Like Ours. However, there was a twist. The campaign group switched out the original actors, who are all white, and subbed in an alternative lineup of performers from diverse backgrounds. The campaign quickly picked up traction in Denmark from national newspapers, and members of the collective have appeared on Danish television alongside government ministers to discuss the campaign. 

Lars von Ire: “There’s a saying over here, the #MeToo wave hit Denmark and died,” group creator Sencindiver told Deadline. “The rest of the world has been having conversations about power and structural racism, but it’s not discussed in Denmark.” More than 40 members of the Danish film and TV industry have signed on in support of the Bigger Picture campaign, including actors like Jesper Christensen (Into the Darkness). However, the group hasn’t convinced everyone with its founding philosophy. “F**k me,” Dogville filmmaker and longtime provocateur Lars von Trier told the daily newspaper Berlingske when quizzed about the campaign. He added that works of art should only be completed under “total artistic freedom.” The group later shared that longtime Zentropa producer and von Trier collaborator Louise Vesth reached out and asked to discuss their ideas over coffee. Since then, Sencindiver has received invitations to meet and discuss a plan of action with the Danish Minister of Culture and the film and TV unions. Moving forward, Sencindiver told Deadline that the campaign plans to move away from public forms of disruption to focus on concrete legislation and ideas with their new partners.

ITV Finances

Carolyn McCall
Carolyn McCall

Profits slide: Now to Max Goldbart for some financial unpicking… No one said the long-term post-Covid recovery would be easy. ITV’s full-year results Thursday showed a 12% fall in EBITDA, reversing a major profit increase from the year prior. CEO Carolyn McCall was bullish, however, pointing to “planned investment in content and [new streamer] ITVX” as the reasoning behind the dip. With spend on shows for ITVX set to rise by a whopping £140M ($168M) in 2023, McCall is confident that profits can, nonetheless, return to growth. This is due to what she described as a “virtuous circle.” As more shows are given lengthy windows on ITVX before linear, digital advertisers will be keen to splash the cash, while many of these shows will be made by ITV Studios and can be sold around the world for profit. In this tough climate, observers will be keeping a keen eye on how this plays out. For what it’s worth, McCall talked up how “significant progress” is being made to diversify a traditional channels business during a time of major economic uncertainty. She also pointed to a strong year for ITV Studios, which, in contrast to the overall business, saw EBITDA shoot upwards by 22%.

Clarkson’s off – or is he?: Of course, no ITV results call in March 2023 would be complete without a question or two about petrolhead/sustainable farmer and Who Wants to be a Millionaire? host Jeremy Clarkson. Questioned on whether Clarkson and the quiz have been “canceled,” McCall insisted they hadn’t, while once again pointing out that the now-disgraced columnist is only contracted to one more season. His actions have “not had any washover onto the ITV brand,” she added. Clarkson’s much maligned article in The Sun newspaper, which contained some pretty horrendous stuff about Meghan Markle, holds the records for the most complaints in UK history and has led to speculation he’s been dropped not only by ITV, but also Amazon.

Ken Loach Defends Bectu

Ken Loach
Ken Loach

The absolute state of the union: Kes director Ken Loach has a reputation as a defender of the working class and he’s now warning the UK’s film and TV trade union is at risk of failing vulnerable industry workers. In Jake’s excellent investigation into tensions between union bodies Prospect and Bectu, the socialist filmmaker said a “clash of cultures” had been a damaging affair. There’s been much disquiet since workers’ rights body Prospect merged with the smaller Bectu, which represents entertainment industry professionals. Jake revealed four female Bectu members have resigned since from Prospect’s National Executive Committee in protest following clashes over budgets, accessing information, and disciplinary action against Bectu members deemed guilty of breaking union rules.

“Members should call the shots”: Those resigning have chosen to remain anonymous – a sign of how nasty things have gotten. Loach told Deadline Prospect appeared more focused on growing membership numbers than protecting film and TV industry workers from potential exploitation. “Our idea of a union is one in which members call the shots. Prospect officials seem to be more interested in control.” Lots more to digest here. It’s been a bad week in general for British entertainment industry workers, with BBC staff on Tuesday voting to hold their biggest strike in 13 years.

The Essentials

The Night Manager
‘The Night Manager’

🌶️ Hot One: Max and Peter White revealed Season Two of The Night Manager is finally set to happen.

🌶️ Another One: Malachi Kirby has boarded Steven Knight’s Disney+ drama series A Thousand Blows.

🍀 One for luck: Luke Arnold is among the leads on new Stan and Nine Network drama Scrublands, as I reported Monday.

❤️ ‘Truelove’ 4eva: Julie Walters has exited Channel 4 drama series Truelove over health concerns. Lindsay Duncan stepped in to replace her, as Max told you.

🟢 Redlight? No, Greenlight: For The Traitors Season 2 on the BBC.

🤝 Done Deal: Christian Petzold’s Berlin Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize winner Afire sold to multiple territories, as Mel revealed.

🗣️ Interview: We sat down with Banijay Asia’s CEO Deepak Dhar.

🦅 Flying: Studiocanal’s truly back in the UK M&A market, as Jake revealed it’s taken a position in Phil Temple’s Birdie Pictures.

😵 Evicted: Harry and Meghan from their UK residence, Frogmore Cottage.

🐳 Making a splash: A24’s hit The Whale crossed $30M globally on Wednesday, as Nancy told you first.

Zac Ntim and Max Goldbart contributed to this week’s Insider

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