Happy Friday Insiders. Jesse Whittock back again. The strike is over and normality is set to return to the world of TV and film after months of madness. Here’s a rundown of the biggest stories of the week. Don’t forget to sign up to the newsletter here.
It’s a deal!: On Wednesday, the industry got the word it was desperate to hear. The deal got done and the actors strike is over. Normality is set to return to the TV and film biz. Our U.S. team were quick to get the industry reaction, as everyone rushed to get back to production and promoting their projects. Even Joe Biden was on hand to welcome the agreement between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP, praising those on-strike actors whose industrial action would “ensure a better future” for creatives across the States and beyond. Crazy scenes saw Deadline’s social media guru Scott Shilstone revealing news of the deal to The Iron Claw star Harris Dickinson on the red carpet in Dallas. “As of when? said the shocked but delighted actor. The likes of Deadpool 3 and Beetlejuice 2 are already planning to restart shooting and we’ll be updating on all the big, on-pause projects that swing back into gear.
What’s been agreed: We’ll discover the fine details this weekend, after the tentative three-year agreement goes to the SAG-AFTRA board today. However, the deal effectively kicked in at 12.01am PT Thursday, meaning the industry is already thinking ‘business as usual.’ Picket line signs will be replaced by call sheets, scripts and props, and hopefully both sides of fence will feel they’ve achieved broadly what they wanted. Kevin Bacon was so excited by the deal that he dusted off his dancing shoes and got Footloose on social media to celebrate.
Celebrations spread: The strike didn’t only impact Hollywood, of course. Productions in Europe and Asia both shut down, with some actors card-carrying SAG members and others not thrilled by the optics of continuing to work while their American counterparts sacrificed pay checks and spent day-after-day on the picket line. In the UK, where the impact of the writers and actors strikes has been particularly acute, the likes of Pact, Bectu, PGGB and British Equity welcomed the deal, with some expressing relief that their members will be able to get back to work after a grim few months. The International Federation of Actors, which represents hundreds of thousands of members globally, said it was “immensely proud” of SAG’s “historic fight.” General Secretary Dominick Luquer added: “This achievement will undoubtedly strengthen the determination of performer unions worldwide to continue fighting with courage and confidence for higher standards, respect, equity, and to help each other out in a globalized industry.” Actors strike coverage from the start can be found here.
Streamers Face Euro Scrutiny
Charles in charge: International streamers have faced more pushback in Europe than anywhere else in the world, as the continent’s proud TV and film communities seek to protect their traditions. That’s manifested in a number of ways this week, including in the UK, where streamer regulation was rubber-stamped during the pomp and spectacle of the King’s Speech — the first Charles III has made since succeeding his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II. In effect, U.S. streamers have been brought under the same regulatory framework that governs how public broadcasters operate. Should they break rules around “harmful” content, they can expose themselves to fines of up to £250,000 ($310,000) or be restricted completely. Netflix has previously said the changes could have a “chilling” effect on its appetite to offer documentaries in the UK and threatened to preemptively remove films and TV shows from its library to avoid falling foul of the new regs. For proponents of Ofcom’s regulation, the need to bring streamers in line with the local market has been apparent for several years, as the likes of Netflix and Amazon invest heavily in content and hoover up executive and creative talent.
Not buying it: It wasn’t just in the UK where streamers were in for scrutiny. A report for the European Parliament this week slammed the “widespread” buyouts practice of many streamers and called for change. Residuals and remuneration were among the biggest sticking points in the actors and writers negotiations in the U.S and more and more European creatives demanding success-based systems that give them insight into how their productions actually perform on streamers and a more defined route to long-tail revenue. The Grouping of European Authors’ Societies (GESAC) responded to the EU report saying buyouts were “unfair and coercive” and put creatives at “considerable risk.” For their part, streamers say their investment in European content has opened up an entirely new market for writers and performers and given them freedoms they’ve never had before. They certainly have some good data to back up their beliefs: A separate report from the European Audiovisual Observatory this week showed global streamers released 228 original European scripted titles in 2022, up from 127 a year earlier. Netflix was singled out as spearheading the growth. The UK and Spain were the top production destinations for streamers, with both countries providing 39 titles each. Indie producers were responsible for 84% of productions, highlighting how streamers have become a vital cog in the production engine in Europe.
Goodbye To A Groundbreaker
Leaving a legacy: The world of international indie film sales and production was reeling this week following news that revered French-Iranian sales agent and producer Hengameh Panahi had died at the age of 67. Panahi was a pioneer in the world of film sales who blazed a trail for her ability to spot emerging talent and then promote their work on the world stage. Her company Celluloid Dreams was synonymous with inscrutable cinematic taste and some of the biggest auteur directors of the last three decades. She had particularly strong bonds with compatriot filmmaker Jafar Panahi, cult Japanese director Takeshi Kitano and French Cannes Palme d’Or winner Jacques Audiard, having first got behind them when they were relative unknowns. As their fame rose, they remained loyal to Panahi even when bigger companies tried to poach them. Celluloid also sold the works of François Ozon, Jia Zanghke, Bruno Dumont, Chantal Akerman, Marjane Satrapi, Todd Haynes, Laurent Cantet, Alexander Sokurov, the Dardenne brothers, Marco Bellocchio, Naomi Kawase, Fernando Trueba and Bertrand Bonello to name but a few of the auteurs in its catalogue. The company was hit hard by the 2008-09 global economic crisis, but Panahi was a fighter and survived to score a top awards hat-trick at Berlin, Cannes and Venice in 2015. Panahi proudly declared at the time that she had sold 800 films, trained 150 rookie film professionals (who are now scattered in key posts across the industry) and paid out more than $55 million in minimum guarantees during her time as a sales agent. Her legacy lives on.
Tales From Taiwan
Entry point to China: Taiwan Creative Content Fest (TCCF) took place this week in a converted tobacco factory in Taipei, drawing the biggest international crowds the event has seen since it launched during the pandemic in 2020. Organized by Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA) the event includes a pitching forum for film and TV projects, a market with sales booths for Taiwanese and international companies, and a few warehouses with immersive artworks and exhibitions, showcasing Taiwan’s prowess in the VR and gaming space. TAICCA was also keen to tout Taiwan as a financing partner for international film and TV production, through its various funding schemes. The country is already working with France through partnerships with Series Mania and national film agency CNC, as well as Korean and Japanese organizations and private companies. With mainland China effectively closed off from international cooperation and struggling with censorship issues, Taiwan is positioning itself as the entry point for Chinese-language content, but also has ambitions in the international space. Crazy Rich Asians writer Adele Lim was on hand to talk about taking Asian stories to global markets. Taiwan’s DaMou Entertainment announced a new show produced with Warner Bros Discovery, and Deadline also caught up with Greener Grass president Phil Tang, who gave us an insightful overview of Taiwanese drama production and how Taiwan is working with the global streamers. Find our complete TCCF coverage here.
Red Sea Stays Buoyant
Going ahead: There has been film industry chatter in recent weeks over whether Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival would push on with its third edition against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas conflict. The festival management has not made any official statement on the matter, but the staggered announcement of the bulk of its film program over the past week is confirmation the edition, scheduled to unfold in the port city of Jeddah from November 30 to December 9, is going ahead. Launched in 2021, in the wake of Saudi Arabia opening up to the world under its 2030 Vision strategy to move the economy away from a reliance on oil, the festival is a cornerstone of the country’s ambition to transform itself into the leading creative industries hub in the region. Alongside showcasing regional cinema, the first two editions drew attention for their glitzy red carpets and high-profile, paid guests. Personalities attending last year included Oliver Stone, Sharon Stone, Spike Lee and Guy Ritchie alongside Bollywood stars Shah Rubk Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Priyanka Chopra. It remains to be seen how many international guests will make the trip this year. The Festival Favourites sidebar features Anna Kendrick’s directorial debut Woman of the Hour and family drama Mother Couch, starring Ewan McGregor and Ellen Burstyn, but there’s no news on whether these stars will be hitting the Red Sea’s red carpet as yet. In the meantime, Morocco’s Marrakech Film Festival kicks off on November 24, some two months after a deadly earthquake in the nearby Atlas Mountains. It has confirmed a raft of attending talent over the past week, including Tilda Swinton, Jessica Chastain, Martin Scorsese, Mads Mikkelsen, Simon Baker and Viggo Mortensen. More Marrakech news here and Red Sea rundowns here.
🌶️ Hot One: The Buccaneers director Susanna White revealed she’s penned a coming-of-age feature for the BFI about her teen years, set during the end of the fur trade.
🌶️ Second Hot One: We revealed new prodco launches Puma in a Tank and The End TV and a tie up between Break Away Casting and indie Shot of Tea.
🌶️ Yes, another: Emma Corrin and Lucie Zhang are set to star as best friends who scam sugar daddies in Hong Kong-set comedy Peaches.
🎙️ Pod god: Max interviewed the WME agent behind the recent spate of popular British politics podcasts.
🏆 Noms: Contenders for the 36th European Film Awards were unveiled Tuesday.
⚖️ Case dismissed: Dustin Lance Black’s UK assault trial was thrown out after a judge ruled there was inconsistent and insufficient evidence.
🇬🇧 Brit List: The annual unsigned scripts selection was topped by a family adventure feature about a granny with secret superpowers and an underground spy base.
🤖 AI: BBC, ITV, Meta and Future Studios execs debated artificial intelligence as a TV format development tool at the TellyCast Digital Content Forum.
🖊️ Signed: An Honest Life actor Simon Lööf with Black Bear’s management arm.
🖊️ Also signed: Iranian-French actress and Holy Spider breakout star Zar Amir, by UTA.
⚠️ Under threat: UK producer MultiStory Media could make some staff redundant after a formal consultation process began.
🤑 Mulling sale: Federation Studios is assessing its options, with an auction next year a possibility.
🍿 Box office: Warners’ Wonka has landed a December 8 release in China, alongside Universal’s animated pic Migration.
🎥 Trailer: For Omen – Belgium’s Best International Feature Film Academy Award entry from rapper-turned-director Baloji.
Melanie Goodfellow and Liz Shackleton contributed to this week’s Insider.