Cinema-television crossover trend strengthens; digital players take on greater content financing role; sales buoyant despite gloomy economic backdrop.
The sun, which was largely absent from the Cannes Film Festival last May, shone brightly on the Croisette this week for the latest edition of the MIPCOM entertainment content market running October 8-11.
And the mood in the corridors of the market and on the street was remarkably bright too given the gloomy economic forecasts in the backdrop.
“It’s been an exceptionally upbeat market,” commented Laurine Garaude, director of the television division at organisers Reed MIDEM. “One of the key trends was the growing cross-over between cinema and television. It’s not new but it was certainly an underlying theme at this year’s edition.
“There was a high level of creative cinema talent, from top personalities such as Harvey Weinstein, who said television was offering important new opportunities, to Jane Campion who talked about how TV had opened up creative possibilities by offering a longer period to develop character,” she continued.
It was also one of the starrier MIPCOMs to date.
Actors putting in an appearance included Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright to present the Netflix-commissioned House of Cards; Gillian Anderson for BBC 2 and ZDF’s upcoming detective tale The Fall; The Walking Dead star Sarah Wayne Callies, promoting the second season; Erica Durance and Michael Shanks for the hospital drama with a paranormal twist Saving Hope, and Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys for the world premiere TV screening of The Americans.
“The screenings which we introduced two years ago are becoming more and more important,” commented Garaude. “The Americans world premiere TV screening on the Monday was packed. There were over 700 people. It had the feel of the Cannes Film Festival. The buyers tell us that the screenings are very important for them.”
MIPCOM’s official five-screening line-up – which also included Russian Central Partnership’s period adventure action movie 1812 and TF1 International’s Flight of the Storks — remains tiny, however, in comparison with Cannes. Garaude says the official previews are confined to lunchtime and evening slots so as not to interfere with the market.
Garaude said the networking events had also grown in stature. This year’s key events included the Woman in Global Entertainment Power Lunch which drew together 150 key female TV executives including president of Fox International Television Marion Edwards and A+E Network’s president of entertainment and media Nancy Dubac.
The other important trend of MIPCOM 2012, said Garaude, was the growing role digital distribution platforms were taking in terms of investing in actual content creation, referring to online TV service Hulu’s deal to to co-produce Mathew Baynton and James Corden’s comedy thriller The Wrong Mans in partnership with BBC Worldwide Americas and Google/YouTube’s announcement it was going to back 60 new YouTube channels in France, Germany and the UK.
Chinese and Latin American attendance on the rise
Attendance was steady with, according to MIPCOM, some 12,900 delegates from 104 countries at the market, including 4,400 buyers — 500 of them, dedicated VOD acquisition agents.
Territory-wise, there was a significant increase in attendance from China, up 30% to 116 companies and South Korea, up 12% to 119 companies. Latin American attendance grew by 36%. Canadian companies rose 11% to 252 countries, mainly due to the fact that Canada was the country of honour this year.
The US presence also rose by 11%, with two big players — The Weinstein Company and Dreamworks, represented by DreamWorks Animation and Classics — setting up stands for the first time.
On the floor, a number of companies reported healthy sales.
Global Screen, the sales and distribution joint venture between Bavaria Media and Telepool, said it had achieved “a large number of sales”.
“We are delighted with this success, especially in view of the fact that the overall economic situation in Europe is tough,” declared Marlene Fritz, Global Screen head of TV sales.
Top Global Screen sellers included the news seasons of RTL’s action series Alarm for Cobra 11, which was sold to the Netherlands’ RTL Crime Channel as well as to Turkey, Iran, Czech Republic Slovenia, Bulgaria and Croatia, and ARD’s telenovela Storm of Love, which achieved its first deal into Iceland to public broadcaster RUV as well as re-selling into Italy, Finland and Slovakia. It also sold television rights for the award-winning, feature-length eco-documentary Taste the Waste to NHK in Japan.
Compatriot sales company ZDF Enterprises also reported brisk business saying it had sold 5,000 hours of programming at the market.
Popular ZDF titles included the quirky Alabama-set science series and National Geographic Channel hit Rocket City Rednecks, which ZDF Enterprises picked up for international distribution just prior to MIPCOM, children’s drama Wolfblood and the previously mentioned new detective series The Fall.
“Despite the difficult times, creativity in the industry is booming,” said Alexander Coridass, President and CEO of ZDF Enterprises.
Celebrity competition formats continued to rack-up sales. Paris-based Banijay International announced it had sold celebrity diving format Stars in Danger to Swedish broadcaster TV3 and TV2 Norway. Banijay International MD Karoline Spodsberg said the sale to two major broadcasters demonstrated “the strength of the franchise” which has aired on a primetime slot in Germany on free-to-air ProSieben since 2004.
A number of innovative, interactive formats also hit the market for the first time.
NBCUniversal Television Canada’s rolled out its sci-fi series Defiance. Billed as the “first-ever convergence of television and massive multiplayer (MMO) gaming”, the series interconnects scripted drama and gaming. Canadian network Shaw Media announced it had acquired the futuristic show and would debut it on its Showcase channel in Spring 2013.
The transmedia and gaming division of French telecommunications giant Orange, unveiled its upcoming multi-platform thriller Alt-Minds about a group of young scientists who go missing in the Ukraine, which will mix scripted drama with a real-time, interactive investigation when it goes live in France, the UK, Germany and Spain later this month.