Good afternoon Insiders, Max Goldbart here penning the weekly mailer a day after Cannes revealed its long-awaited lineup. Read on for all the details and plenty more, and sign up to the International Insider here.
Cannes Lineup Roars
Few surprises: Zac Ntim here reporting on Cannes …Cannes General Delegate Thierry Frémaux announced 52 titles Thursday morning that will debut at the festival’s 76th edition, which runs May 16-27 on the Riviera. There were few surprises in the Official Competition lineup, with festival favorites such as Wes Anderson, Ken Loach, Nanni Moretti and Hirokazu Kore-eda vying for the Palme d’Or alongside long-rumored entries from Alice Rohrwacher, Jonathan Glazer and Aki Kaurismäki. The festival did, however, clock six films with women filmmakers playing in competition, a new record for Cannes. With 19 competition titles announced, however, six still remains far below that elusive 50% parity mark. Progress has been slow. This year’s historic cohort includes Senegalese-French director Ramata-Toulaye Sy, who enters Competition with her debut film. Sy is only the second Black woman to play in Competition after Mati Diop in 2019.
Headliners: Other headline titles include Steve McQueen’s WW2 documentary Occupied City. The Small Axe filmmaker has been working on the big-budget doc for several years, which is adapted from a book written by author and filmmaker Bianca Stigter (also McQueen’s wife). As previously announced, the Out of Competition strand will, alongside Indiana Jones, feature Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon (Paramount/Apple), which Frémaux said he would have liked to have seen in competition. One eyebrow-turner is The Idol from HBO and A24, director Sam Levinson’s series follow-up to Euphoria. The show stars Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd, who will attend the festival, and Fremaux said the first two episodes will screen as “together they are like a film.” His full interview with Mel can be read here.
Whose names didn’t we hear?: Names we didn’t hear during the Official Selection announcement include Yorgos Lanthimos, Robin Campillo, Bruno Dumont, Bertrand Bonello, Michel Franco, Abderrahmane Sissako, Kitty Green and Cristi Puiu. All six were heavily rumored to be in contention, but Frémaux noted that there will be additions to the Official Selection, so some of these could potentially still make it to the Croisette. Notable absentees also included Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, whose inclusion would court plenty of controversy. “The Cannes Film Festival is an extraordinary springboard for cinema from all over the world and of every genre,” festival president Iris Knobloch concluded in her maiden speech, as the festival lineup was announced. Andreas’ Friday morning analysis had further thoughts and details. Roll on May.
Don’t Forget Mip
The small screen: Before the film fest gets going, there is the small matter of next week’s Mip TV confab. I’ll be headed to Cannes on Sunday for four days with a number of keynotes to cover, buyers to meet and cocktail parties to attend. Poor me. This year’s market looks set to be a small-ish affair, with numerous super-indies and studios we have spoken with deciding to send reduced delegations. The larger Mipcom confab, which takes place in October, features enormous stands manned by dozens of employees from these same outfits but Mip TV has faced tough competition in recent years from the buzzy Series Mania scripted market, which takes place just a few weeks prior in Lille. A number of attendees said they are looking forward to the market’s first ever Free Ad-Supported Streaming TV (FAST) Summit, however, which will focus solely on these growing platforms. Media vet Evan Shapiro, ITV Studios’ Ruth Berry and See It Now Studios’ Susan Zirinsky are helming keynotes. Regardless of size, it looks set to be a strong year for formats at Mip off the back of the success of The Traitors. Our market analysis featured a sextet of format sellers and creators saying they were bullish about the state of the sector, with Deal or No Deal exec Glenn Hugill lauding The Traitors for “doing for formats what Top Gun: Maverick did for the summer blockbuster.” We hear more Traitors territory sales are on the horizon, while sellers have high hopes for the likes of Red Arrow’s Stranded on Honeymoon Island, Fremantle’s The Piano and Banijay Rights’ Hot Wheels gameshow, all of which feature here in our Hot Ones feature. And if you fancy checking out our scripted Hot Ones, look no further than here. I’ll be on the ground reporting from Cannes next week.
Who Needs The HBO?
Rebranding to the Max: Well there you have it: the long-awaited HBO Max/Discovery+ mega streamer has been named after none other than yours truly. Only kidding, but not about the Max platform, which will go live in around about a month’s time. Many of our U.S. colleagues tuned in for the David Zaslav-led livestream Wednesday as the Zav unveiled the name, logo, three-tier pricing structure and some eye-watering projects including the long-awaited Harry Potter TV series – EP’d by JK Rowling and due to run for a decade – and Game of Thrones prequel A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight. HBO boss Casey Bloys’ blunt deflection when pushed on Rowling’s controversial involvement with the new wizards series is worth inspection. The new streamer comes armed with a powerhouse of a catalog, featuring HBO originals, Warner Bros. Films, the DC universe and Discovery’s multiple brands. How it fares will be fascinating to follows and subscribers won’t have to wait long, with launch date set for May 23. Notably, our U.S. team reports that little was said about the SVoD’s international rollout during both presentation and Q&A. HBO’s high-profile licensing deal with Sky, which has blocked HBO Max from launching in key European territories, wasn’t mentioned, with more expected over the coming weeks. The licensing deal is not due to run down for another two years or so and in the meantime streamers are striking partnerships across the world, with this major tie-up between Apple TV+ and Canal+ in France and French-speaking territories worth a closer look.
Indians ❤️ English-Language Content
Viewing through the roof: Insider has long been waxing lyrical over the streaming battleground in India and the fruits of our labor were realized with research this week showing a 124% uptick in viewing to shows from the U.S. and UK since the 2020. During the pandemic, Indian viewers flocked to the likes of House of the Dragon, The Lord of the Rings and The Crown, according to ratings firm Ormax’s study. A boom in the availability of Western shows drove the extra consumption, with titles such as Netflix’s The Crown and The Gray Man and Prime Video’s The Boys and The Wheel of Time appealing to what the research referred to as the “lockdown millennials” sub-set. HBO’s House of the Dragon was the biggest driver but, as we revealed earlier this year, the Game of Thrones prequel has now been taken off Disney+ Hotstar and is presumably being readied for the new Max service (see above). And Indian TV is set for further shake-up with news that Comcast has invested in James Murdoch’s Bodhi Tree Systems, which in turn is becoming a key player in new-look Viacom 18.
Working around the ban: A more controversial show that has nonetheless been attracting attention in India is the BBC’s Narendra Modi doc, which has been banned in the country on YouTube and social media. However, piracy is winning out, and my story from Tuesday found that Indian viewers are finding ways to watch India: The Modi Question, with global analysis firm Parrot Analytics ranking it amongst its top 10 ‘global breakout’ shows outside the U.S. for the first week in March on a par with huge hits like Netflix South Korea’s The Glory. “The significant global demand suggests that Indian consumers worked around the ban,” said Parrot’s Wade Payson-Denney. The doc continues to have a ripple effect. Only yesterday, India’s financial crimes agency launched an investigation into the BBC over alleged violations of foreign exchange rules, coming less than two months after the pubcaster’s India HQ was raided by tax inspectors. The Indian government denies that either of these instances are related to the doc but has called The Modi Question “anti-India garbage.”
Diversity in Australia
“Years of advocacy”: The diversity landscape in Australian TV drama is slowly but surely improving, according to Liz’s write-up of a Screen Australia study. The body’s Head of First Nations Angela Bates said it was “not an accident” that representation of indigenous Australians on screen increased from 4.8% to 7.2% over the last seven years, which she put down to “years of advocacy and consistent hard work.” The 7.2% figure is well up on the Australia First Nations population benchmark of 3.8% and follows the introduction of new shows such as Mystery Road (pictured), Total Control and sketch show Black Comedy. More improvement is required elsewhere, however, such as representation of Australia’s disabled community, which lags far behind its population benchmark, along with LGBTQIA+ representation, which has some way to go. Go deeper.
🌶️ Hot One: Amazon is behind a film version of celebrated musical Joseph from Jon M. Chu, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Baz with this banger.
🌶️ Another: A big-budget Alexander the Great docudrama is in the works at Netflix.
🌶️ Still hot: Louis Theroux’s Mindhouse is making a Columbia space shuttle disaster doc for the BBC and CNN.
🖊️ Signed up: Oscar-winning An Irish Goodbye duo Tom Berkeley and Ross White signed with WME and Independent Talent Group respectively.
🐦 Tweet-twoo: Elon Musk talked about pretty much everything in a hastily-arranged interview with the BBC.
🏦 Reorg: Nancy had the latest on Cineworld’s reorganization plan.
🎥 Casting: Bella Ramsey can’t stay out the news for long and has secured a role leading the second season of BBC prison drama Time.
🏪 Setting up shop: Peaky Blinders EP Tommy Bulfin and Apple commissioner Kim Varvell, backed by Banijay.
🏪 Setting up another shop: African entertainment heavyweight Jan Du Plessis with Primedia Studios.
🖼️ First-look: At Anthony Hopkins and Matthew Goode in Freud’s Last Session.
Zac Ntim contributed to this week’s Insider.