It’s Friday and that can mean only one thing, folks: another edition of International Insider. Jesse Whittock here to take you through another week in film and TV.
Pouncing On Cannes Lions
Climate chaos: Our intrepid Weekend Editor Caroline Frost braved the travel chaos in Europe to make her way to the mega ad confab Cannes Lions in France this week. While she was there to hear from the likes of Ryan Reynolds, Ted Sarandos and Regina Hall, the week was dominated by a series of stunts pulled by climate cmpaigners Greenpeace. After ad man-turned-activist Gustav Martner stormed the stage to protest against fossil fuel ads, a group of protestors stormed the WPP beachfront before Caroline was herself caught up in an incident as a pair of campaigners scaled the roof of the Palais des Festivales and halted delegates from entering the building. Police eventually retrieved them and our reporter was allowed on her merry way, just time in to see Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos speak. In beautifully French fashion, a local police officer simply shrugged when asked what had happened, nodded to the roof and nonchalantly mouthed: “Greenpeace.”
Sarandos speaks: Once inside the Palais, Caroline was able to hear Sarandos confirm Netflix had been speaking to several possible partners over ad sales deals, as the streamer gears up to go back on everything it previously believed in and launch an ad-funded low-cost tier next year. Google, Roku and NBCUniversal are all said to be in the running, though the latter’s CEO Jeff Shell was less forthcoming in his Cannes Lions panel, playfully saying only: “I’m not surprised that some of our SVOD partners are getting into the ad business — that’s where the money is.” Elsewhere in Sarandos’ talk, he doubled down on Netflix’s defense of controversial comedians such as Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais, saying: “Diversity of thought, expression, is super important to defend. It’s good for culture, it’s good for society — not just for the U.S. but everywhere.” That one’s sure to rumble on.
“Getting Deadpool made was hell”: Ryan Reynolds was frank as usual in his Cannes Lions conversation, revealing how he spent 10 years trying to get support for a Deadpool movie. “It was hell,” he told delegates. “We shot some test footage, some absolute bastard leaked it onto the internet, and that’s what got the movie made.” However, the star wasn’t in town to shoot on Hollywood. Instead, he appeared in his capacity as Chief Creative Officer of ad-tech firm MNTN, and revealed how he had used unorthodox methods to promote Deadpool — hitting the streets in his superhero outfit to sell the 20th Century Fox film. The financial success of the film (how much the bodysuit stunts helped we’ll never truly know) led to Reynolds buying Aviation Gin and, in his own words: “Inadvertently, we became a marketing company.” Aviation Gin was later sold for $600M — don’t some people people have all the luck?
Paramount+ Stars Loose In London
On the showcase: The stars came out on a warm Monday night in London as Paramount+ celebrated its local launch. Kevin Costner, Michelle Pfiffer, Viola Davis, Gillian Anderson, Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain were just some of the names who appeared at the glitzy showcase, which yours truly and fellow International TV Co-Editor Max Goldbart attended (sadly to much less fanfare). Stallone, who’s set to star in Taylor Sheridan’s mob series Tulsa King, was the talk of the evening, deciding to ditch the teleprompter and instead go on a rollercoaster 10-minute ramble that had the audience of journalists, execs, producers, agents and stars enthralled.
Take your seat: The following day, our own Baz Bamigboye revealed Stallone, Costner, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Chastain and Shannon had dedicated seats in the Princess Anne Theatre in BAFTA in Piccadilly, as part of the org’s Take a Seat fundraising campaign. They’ll all have their names emblazoned on seats, with Costner’s name eventually boasted on a plaque in the theater. “Not sure what it means, but I’m happy to have a seat,” he joked. Baz later attended a Paramount+ dinner and came away with the revelation Yellowstone creator Sheridan is to direct the pilot of 1883: Bass Reeves, which stars David Oyelowo as the legendary Wild West lawman. Read on.
Studios Circle CineEurope
Cruising along: Fresh from his successful Cannes Film Festival sojourn in May, Tom Cruise was back in Europe this week at Barcelona’s CineEurope. The star has been on Cloud Nine thanks to the mega success of Top Gun: Maverick and appeared live on stage at the Paramount slate presentation, gaining a rapturous standing ovation. Our Nancy Tartaglione, in attendance, wrote that the room “positively thundered with applause.” The audience will have been more than pleased to hear Cruise tell them he is “going to keep delivering these films for you… You know I’m here for you and I know you’re here for me.” The first of those coming from Paramount will be next year’s tentpole Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning. Smiles all round. Read more here.
Slate talking: The latest Mission: Impossible wasn’t the only talking point on Paramount’s slate, with President of International Distribution Mark Viane also highlighting Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts and the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Disney provided 12 minutes of tasty footage from Thor: Love and Thunder and exclusive scenes from Avatar: The Way of Water, while Warner Bros. delighted Jason Statham fans with a behind-the-scenes look at The Meg 2: The Trench and touted its next 18 months of DC movies. Dwayne Johnson, the star of Black Adam, appeared via video to round out the presentation. Elsewhere, Universal teased a first look at Jason Momoa and Brie Larson in Fast & Furious X after Sony had kicked things off Monday with new scenes from Lyle, Lyle Crocodile. As Sony Pictures International Releasing’s President Steven O’Dell declared: “As an industry, we are anything but done.”
No Eurovision Fairytale For Ukraine
Eurovision veto: Despite an emotional plea by Ukraine’s political leaders, the embattled country won’t host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest, upending the tradition that this year’s winner puts on the following event. The European Broadcasting Union decided it will have to take place in the country of the runner-up, the UK — despite Britain’s leaders throwing their support behind a Ukrainian event. Welfare of the thousands of staff needed to stage the contest and fans expected to attend were given as the EBU’s reasoning – a decision that’s understandable and heartbreaking in equal measure. On happier note, this year’s Ukrainian winners Kalush Orchestra are set to play the UK’s Glastonbury Music Festival this weekend. Caroline had the details.
Paul Haggis Investigated
House arrest: Details around Crash director Paul Haggis’ detention in Italy over allegations of sexual assault began to emerge this week. He has been under police detention near the Southern Italian port city of Brindisi since Sunday following allegations by an unnamed British woman he that he subjected her to non-consensual sex over several days. A judge ruled to extend Haggis’ house arrest after ruling out a prison detention on ground it is unlikely he’ll try to escape. Haggis maintains “complete innocence,” according to his Italian lawyer. This one is nowhere near finished, with the next step being a pre-trial special evidence hearing outside the court. Our new Senior International Film Correspondent Melanie Goodfellow (welcome, Melanie) had more.
🌶️ Hot one: Baz revealed Steve Coogan’s stage show Alan Partridge Live: Stratagem will stream on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and Ireland later this year.
🌶️ Another hot one: Ambika Mod and Joe Woodall are to lead Netflix’s series adaptation of David Nicholls’ novel One Day. I had the scoop.
🌶️ And another: His Dark Materials producer Bad Wolf optioned the dramatic rights to The No-Show from British writer Beth O’Leary. Max had the news.
🌶️ Burning up: Podcast The Murder of Robert Wone is being turned into a TV drama series by pod producer AYR Media and Arrested Industries.
🔥 On fire: Max revealed the BBC is now attached to Rise Films’ drama on the phone hacking scandal that rocked Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. More here.
🗣️ In talks: Soon after we revealed Netflix’s Chris Sussman was exiting the streamer, Max reported the exec is set to exec produce a new season of Apple TV+’s Trying.
🏢 Opening up shop: Peaky Blinders producer Joe Donaldson launched Magic Hour Television, with backing from All3Media.
🏢 Also opening: Global VFX and animation firm ReDefine is launching a studio in Barcelona as part of its ongoing expansion. Nancy had this one.
🍿 Box office: Top Gun: Maverick sped past $900M worldwide less than a month after its release.
🍿 More box office: On the subject of speedy features, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 darted past the $400M threshold globally.