Come in quickly, Insiders. It’s getting colder out there. Jesse Whittock here with a rundown of this week’s top news and analysis, coming to you from across Europe.
Queen Elizabeth Laid To Rest
The world says goodbye: Following Queen Elizabeth II’s passing on September 8, the mourning period that came after and the thousands of stories about to the never-ending queue to see her laying in state in central London, the monarch’s funeral was held on Monday. The likes of Joe Biden, Killing Eve’s Sandra Oh and even Bear Grylls joined the Royal Family to pay respect to the UK’s longest-serving monarch. Caroline Frost was on hand to keep you informed. Following the religious service at Westminster Abbey, the funeral procession stretched more than a mile long. When the Queen was finally laid to rest at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, the world saw for the first time the symbolic breaking of the Wand of Office on television — a moment representing the end of her era and the beginning of King Charles III’s reign.
Procession in numbers: Max dug into the ratings and found a massive 37.5M watched the funeral across the day, with 27M tuning in for the procession — more than those who watched Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997. In the UK, most watched on BBC One, as the public service broadcasters once again proved their worth at a time national unity was required. With new Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan set to review the government’s plan to scrap the BBC license fee and the sale of Channel 4 into private hands beginning to sound, the PSBs will feel their work this week was a triumph, albeit in solemn circumstances. The events were no cash cow for Britain’s commercial broadcasters, however, as they all dropped advertising during the televised events as a mark of respect. Find all of our coverage here and here.
TF1 & M6 Union Collapses
Do not merge: The signs French broadcasters TF1 and M6’s planned merger was on the rocks began when TF1 CEO Gilles Pelisson said the “dream” wasn’t shared by the competition authorities back in July. That prophecy became reality this week, when it emerged the deal had collapsed, with French competition authorities apparently unconvinced a pairing would not materially impact the local TV advertising market. A joint statement from TF1 and M6 said the French Competition Authority would only have been satisfied by the sale of the one of the broadcasters’ channels — and there was never a realistic chance that could happen. M6 owner Bertelsmann, whose CEO Thomas Rabe is pictured, reacted by putting M6 up for sale, with Banijay owner Stéphane Courbit, Vivendi, Mediawan and MediaForEurope all connected with potential bids. TF1 has moved for a succession plan, with French media veteran Rodolphe Belmer set to replace Pelisson as CEO, with the latter moving upstairs to parent Bouygues Group. For now, though, M6 and TF1 must lick their wounds as they wish each other ‘adieu’ and ‘bon chance.’
Creative Investors Get Spiky In San Sebastian
‘Venice sold its soul’: Over to Zac Ntim with this exclusive report from Spain — As always, San Sebastian boasted a bumper lineup of intriguing titles such as Sebastián Lelio’s The Wonder, starring Florence Pugh, and the newly re-edited version of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths. However, on the ground, all eyes were on the festival’s inaugural Creative Investors’ Conference, organized with CAA Media Finance. The conference was held at the imposing Tabakalera cultural arts centre and featured a series of keynotes by industry stalwarts. The hottest session of the conference featured a discussion between Wild Bunch co-founder Vincent Maraval and CAA Media Finance’s Roeg Sutherland. During the lengthy session, the pair discussed the current state of the industry, during which Maraval gave his take on Netflix and its relationship with the Cannes and Venice film festivals. Calling out a “mistake”, he claimed “the four first days of Venice look like the Netflix Film Festival — Ted Sarandos is on the red carpet welcoming people. I think Venice sold its soul to Netflix.” Overall, the sessions were lengthy but dynamic and often spawned innovative discussions on the issues hitting the film industry hard today. Read on.
Corralling opinion: Elsewhere, Leak Herald sat down with Domingo Corral, Director of Original Fiction at Movistar Plus+, Spain’s biggest pay-TV/SVOD operator. This year, the Telefonica-owned streamer had two original TV series and one feature film screening at San Sebastian. Corral spoke about the company’s production strategy and how he competes with global streamers like Netflix and Disney+. Go deeper.
Counting The Cost Of Living
Helping hands required: Britain, it’s fair to say, is facing the worst cost-of-living conditions in recent memory, with interest rates shooting up as wages stagnate. That is translating to the TV production sector, where costs have been spiking — creatives are understandably worried about making ends meet and are looking for reassurance. My international TV partner-in-crime Max decided to push the UK’s broadcasters on what they’re doing to help, after Pact CEO John McVay said they needed to be “sympathetic.” So, what did Max find? Well, Channel 4 is reviewing its commissioning tariffs and has increased its content budget by more than £50M ($56M), while ITV and Paramount-owned Channel 5 said they were working closely with their suppliers to ensure funding was sufficient. The BBC wouldn’t go on the record but appears to be subscribing to a flexible cost model, which sits alongside its Small Indie and Production Management Funds. More.
Na’vigating ‘Avatar’s Re-release
The way of watchers: Disney began the global re-release of the original Avatar this week, launching the James Cameron mega-bucks spinner in several European countries, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Australia among others. Results were pretty good, as Nancy Tartaglione flagged: in France, the 4k high dynamic range version was No. 1, bringing in $513,000 and also took decent money in Saudi and Korea. Number one rankings were achieved in Belgium and the Philippines, as the film gears up to play in 8,000 offshore screens and in North America this month. How much of this was driven by the revelation footage from the long-gestating sequel Avatar: The Way of Water appears at the end of the film can’t be known but it certainly won’t have hurt. The Way of Water begins rolling out on December 14, landing in North America two days later. More on the return to Pandora here.
RIP Hilary Mantel: The much-loved author behind BBC period drama Wolf Hall has passed away aged 70, it emerged this morning. The writer of several historical fiction books was made a Dame in 2014 for her contributions to literature and is the only woman to have won the Booker Prize twice. She will be sadly missed.
🌶️ Hot One: CAA scored a coup by signing hot director SS Rajamouli, whose box office RRR (Rise Roar Revolt) has been India’s biggest hit of the year. Andreas broke this one.
🌶️ Another One: Nick Frost (Hot Fuzz) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones) are set to re-team for comedic thriller Svalta, after they starred together in Fighting With My Family.
🌶️ Very spicy: Alice Diop’s hotly tipped French feature Saint Omer secured distribution in numerous territories for Wild Bunch International. Melanie had the exclusive.
🌶️ More fire: Eight-figure action here, as Open Road Films buys U.S. rights to Gerard Butler thriller Kandahar. Andreas with this one.
👩🏻💼 New job: Vice Studios boss Kate Ward heads to BBC Studios to lead factual content.
🛫 Mipcom-bound: Keshet International bags rights to ambitious Portuguese period drama Cuba Libre, I revealed Tuesday.
❌ Rejected: Bulgaria’s Oscars submission Mother, as Leak Herald TV Editor-in-Chief Nellie Andreeva wrote this week.
✅ Accepted: Iceland’s submission Beautiful Beings, India’s Last Film Show and Israel’s Cinema Sabaya.
Zachary Ntim contributed to this week’s Insider.