UK & U.S. Deals For Horror Comedy ‘The Leech’ (Exclusive); Viaplay Norway Original; Cineflix Rights CEE Sales; Estonian TV Drama To Oz; UK Unscripted Fund; Brian Walsh Re-Upped — Global Briefs

Arrow Strikes For UK & U.S. Rights To Horror Pic ‘The Leech

EXCLUSIVE: Arrow Films has acquired rights in the UK, Ireland, U.S. and Canada to Eric Pennycoff’s Christmas horror comedy The Leech, which is set to have its world premiere at Chattanooga Film Festival tomorrow (June 23). A December 2022 release is planned. In the movie, a devout priest welcomes a struggling couple into his house at Christmas time. What begins as a simple act of kindness quickly becomes the ultimate test of faith once the sanctity of his home is jeopardized. Jeremy Gardner, Graham Skipper and Taylor Gardner lead cast. Writer-director Eric Pennycoff commented: “Working with Arrow Films has been a total dream come true. Having been a fan of theirs since the beginning of my filmmaking career, I cannot think of a better home for The Leech to live on in all its holiday madness. Between the deluxe edition Blu-Ray and its streaming premiere on Arrow, Kevin and his team have truly cemented the film’s place among a long-lasting range of great titles. There’s a reason Quentin Tarantino said Arrow is the only streamer he’s subscribed to.” The Leech was produced by Eric Pennycoff, Scott Smith and Adelyn Pennycoff.

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Viaplay Orders Norwegian Comedy-Drama ‘Below’ From Screenwriter Tina Rygh

Viaplay’s latest Norwegian original dark comedy-drama Below, starring Maria Austgulen (Made in Oslo) as a young woman whose life is turned upside down by a traffic accident. This marks a debut series from screenwriter Tina Rygh (Sigurd Can’t Get Laid, Basic Bitch) and will be directed by Siri Seljeseth (Young and Promising). It premiere this fall. The longline reads: “After a night out, Fanny is involved in an accident that kills her best friend Kurt and leaves her paralysed from the waist down. Fanny is forced to move in with her sister, having avoided her since childhood, all the time longing to return to her fourth-floor apartment and her old life.” Below (Norwegian title: Nede) is produced by Bård Fjulsrud and Aurora Bjørnhaug at Monster Scripted, with Tanya Nanette Badendyck executive producer for Viaplay Group. The series is distributed worldwide by Viaplay Content Sales.

Cineflix Secures Pre-NATPE Budapest CEE Deals

Ahead of NATPE Budapest next week, Cineflix Rights has closed multiple international deals with Central and Eastern European and Southern Mediterranean broadcasters. Tanweer has bought all three seasons of ITV and Netflix thriller Marcella for ERT in Greece, while Disney+ has taken season one of Canadian procedural Coroner for the Balkans and Bulgaria. True crime sales include Reelz series John Wayne Gacy: Killer Clown’s Revenge going to TV JOJ (Czech Republic); Battle of Alcatraz, also originally for Reelz sold to AMC Networks International for its Spektrum channel in Central Europe and FTV Prima (Czech Republic); and True Crime Network’s second season of Killer Cases selling to AETN (Poland). Meanwhile, Kino (Poland) has acquired Secret Nazi Expeditions for its Stopklatka channel and Smart Home Nation for Zoom TV.

Australia’s SBS Acquires Estonian Drama ‘Traitor’ From India’s GoQuest Media

Australian broadcaster SBS has acquired local AVoD rights to Traitor, a scripted thriller series produced by multi-service provider Elisa Estonia and Estonian public broadcaster ERR. The Eastern European drama is written by prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Martin Algus and stars Tambet Tuisk (The Little Comrade, O2), who was named Best Actor at the Estonian Film and Television Awards 2020 for the performance. Inspired by recent spy scandals in Estonia, the drama begins just before Estonia joined NATO in 2004 and became a top target for Russian intelligence. Greed and the need for recognition leads new recruit Alfred Vint (Tambet Tuisk) to cooperate with Russian intelligence, leading to a cat-and-mouse game with determined young Estonian counter-intelligence officer Marko Arrak (Veiko Porkanen). “Estonia is emerging as a new territory in the premium drama space,” said Haidee Ireland, SBS On Demand & World Movies Channel Manager.

UK’s Unscripted TV Skills Fund Generates $1.63M In First Year

The ScreenSkills Unscripted TV Skills Fund has generated £1.33M ($1.63M) in its first year. The fund was set up to future-proof UK unscripted TV and transform investment in its workforce and its first year has focused on improving training, focusing on a collective approach that makes inclusion stronger, and boosting the availability of skilled crew and talent. The UK has been troubled by a lack of numbers in its workforce for some time, especially since the global streamers began focusing original production efforts in the country. The fund’s first anniversary is being marked by a panel discussion at Sheffield DocFest on Monday 27 June. In April, ITV and Amazon Prime Video had signed up to the fund, joining founding investors the BBC and Channel 4 and founding partners Sky, A+E Networks UK and Discovery UK. Channel 5 and Netflix joined in September last year.

Foxtel Veteran Brian Walsh Re-Ups Deal with Australian Pay-TV Giant

Long serving Foxtel executive Brian Walsh has extended his consultancy agreement with Australian pay-TV group, meaning he’ll offer insight on local content strategy and industry relations and lead the Foxtel Originals drama division. The well-known exec has been a member of The Twelve commissioner Foxtel’s senior management team since the company’s inception in 1995 and and served as the Executive Director Of Television for over two decades. His new role officially makes him Executive Director of Drama. “I have enjoyed every moment of my journey with Foxtel and am delighted to sign on for a further term and under new arrangements which will allow me to continue doing what I love most, telling Australian stories, whilst embarking on some new business opportunities more broadly within the entertainment industry,” he said.

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