International Insider: Disney France Woes; 42s Splash; Banff Incoming; Lady Of Heaven Saga

Afternoon Insiders, Max Goldbart here. I’m headed to Banff on Sunday for the World Media Fest but before I go, here’s our digest of the week’s biggest news and analysis.

Disney France Woes

Fermez la fenêtre: A fierce argument has broken out as the deep-pocketed U.S. streamers delve deeper and deeper into Europe’s production ecologies and Disney+ was taking no prisoners this week. France has long been the battleground for arguments around local streamer activity and regulation and it was Disney’s decision to bypass the recently revised French windowing system with animated action adventure Strange World, shifting it straight to Disney+, which caused consternation in cinematic circles. In a strongly-worded statement to Deadline, a studio spokesperson described the French windowing system, which was recently revised to allow Netflix to take films after 15 months rather than 36 in return for more spend in the nation, as “cumbersome” and “anti-consumer.” Charming. France’s National Cinema Federation responded with a note of “firm protest,” describing Disney’s decision as a “losing choice for everyone.”

Just the start: This particular debate could be just the start. As the streamers plant their flags in more European nations’ local ecologies (see my Euro streamer map for the very latest) and make more shows, competing voices will want the ensuing content flood to suit their needs best. Disney has plunged millions of dollars and much marketing power into growing Disney+, which by any metric has been an enormous success, and one can certainly see the argument that if it’s paying for the local content, it should be able to do what it wants with it. Netflix had to tread very carefully when negotiating the revised windowing system, which has been widely welcomed. On the other hand, nations like France have a rich cinematic heritage and fear of cinema-going decline could spread like wildfire. See this timely piece from Deadline’s very own Editor-at-Large Peter Bart, whose column this week was titled Opportunity & Disaster Loom Side By Side For Indie Film Launches, Especially In Theaters.

Timely analysis: Timelier still was UK media consultancy Ampere Analysis’ fascinating report examining the impact of the 30% European content quota, which demands that 30% of all the streamer’s shows are produced locally in the nations in which it applies. Ampere concluded that it seems to be working. The research found Netflix is at or above the 30% mark in “almost all” European markets, having been just over half six months ago. Serious progress. Ampere said Netflix is “just a ’rounding error’ away” from meeting requirements across its entire European footprint. I have said many times that 2022 feels like the year of the streamers in Europe and, with analysis like this, something of a seachange does seem to be in the air. In the week that news of Peter Rice’s shock firing dominated the U.S. news cycle, French industry eyes are trained on Disney for a different reason.

42’s Splash

The meaning of life: Andreas brought big consolidation news this week as Dalzell and Beresford, the UK talent and literary agency that represents the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Sir Simon Russell Beale, Ciarán Hinds and Indira Varma, was bought by 42. Veteran British agent Simon Beresford has joined the LA and London-based management and production company as a Partner and Manager and his roster is moving over with him. British company Dalzell and Beresford is a respected, age-old firm, having launched in 1966, and the move is a signifier of yet more consolidation in the talent agent space, coming just a few weeks after we revealed the acquisitive 42 had received minority investment from Lionsgate. More likely to come on this one.

Nearly Banff O’Clock

A Rockie ride: The latest TV festival to finally return in person after a troubled couple of years is the picturesque Banff World Media Festival, set within the Canadian Rockies, and myself and Deadline’s very own Dom Patten are headed there Sunday. I caught up last week with Jenn Kuzmyk (pictured), Banff Executive Director, who told me this year looks set to mirror the globalized TV world by being the most international yet. “Going virtual during the pandemic has widened our reach and that’s definitely represented in the breadth of participation,” Jen told me, while also saying the festival will not shy away from tackling the biggest topics and promoting diversity as its “point of difference.” With Netflix’s Bela Bajaria, Universal’s Pearlana Igbokwe and Participant’s David Linde all set for major keynotes, along with huge stars attending, this year’s festival should be a cracker. Stay tuned for Deadline’s coverage Sunday to Wednesday.

‘Lady of Heaven’ Pulled

“Disrespecting the most esteemed individuals of Islamic history”: Censorship in cinema is a thorny issue and it came to a head at UK Cineworld this week. All screenings of Eli King’s The Lady of Heaven, which is about the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, were pulled by the cinema to “ensure the safety of our staff and customers” after reports of several verbal attacks against managers. The Bolton Council of Mosques said the feature “disrespects the most esteemed individuals of Islamic history” but exec producer Malik Shlibak criticized cinemas for “crumbling to the pressure and taking these decisions to quell the noise.” Even senior UK government minister Sajid Javid weighed in to argue in favor of free speech and expression.

Remembering Blue StoryThe debate has shades of the controversy surrounding Rapman’s Blue Story in late 2019. That film, about a gang war in South London, was pulled from Vue and Showcase after a mass brawl at a Birmingham cinema, before eventually being reinstated having triggered an immense amount of introspection and debate. This Lady of Heaven saga could similarly run.

Animation Nation

Netflix’s latest play: The last few weeks have been anything but easy for Netflix and, with ideas to turn its fortune around flying left, right and center, the latest is an eight-strong mega Euro animation slate. In step some of the genre’s most celebrated creatives including Oscar-winning Klaus creator Sergio Pablos with Spain’s Ember (pictured), Love Actually’s Richard Curtis and Wallace & Gromit’s Steve Box to resurrect fortunes, while Stephen Donnelly is prepping a musical version of A Christmas Carol adaptation with an Oscar-winning composer attached. The slate will be taken out to Annecy International Animation Festival next week and represents Netflix’s latest push for new eyeballs and subs.

The Essentials

🌶️ Hot one: Big exclusive from Andreas this week on Borat star Maria Bakalova joining Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

🌶️ Another one: Maddie Ziegler and Schitt’s Creek star Emily Hampshire are to lead coming-of-age “traumedy” Bloody Hell.

🌶️ More heat: Steve Coogan’s Baby Cow is celebrating Britain’s best up-and-coming comedians with a live/sketch show for UKTV’s Dave.

🏆 Awards latest: When They See Us auteur Ava DuVernay will receive this year’s International Emmys’ Founders Award.

🤝 Done deal: U.S. marketing giant Trailer Park Group has pushed into India by buying Mumbai’s White Turtle Studios.

🖼️ Casting: Loving Pablo star Julieth Restrepo is set to star as Colombian politician and women’s rights pioneer Esmeralda Arboleda in Spanish-language feature Estimados Señores (Dear Gentlemen). Andreas had this one.

🚪 Exiting: Thomas Daley (not that one) is leaving Universal International Studios after two years as SVP/Head of UK Creative.

⛵ For sale: Jesse brought us exclusive news of Salvage Hunters producer Curve Media calling in advisors to assess its financial options.

🍿 Box office: Jurassic World Dominion has roared to $325M worldwide per Nancy and Anthony’s analysis.

🎥 Trailer: First look at Dark creators Jantje Friese and Baran bo Odar’s “visually stunning Odyssey” 1899. 

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