Good afternoon Insiders, Jesse Whittock back with you. So much news to get through this week — here’s a pick of the biggest and best stories. Sign up for the newsletter here.
BAFTA Film Award Noms
Kicking ass and taking noms: After a competitive longlist stage, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer pulled out in front at BAFTA, clocking a leading 13 noms Thursday morning. The film’s haul included Best Film, Director and Adapted Screenplay. The pic was one nomination away from equaling All Quiet on the Western Front’s record 2023 haul of 14 noms. Trailing Nolan is Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, who clocked 11 nominations with his latest black comedy, Poor Things. Lanthimos’ movie’s haul also includes Best Film alongside outstanding British Film, Best Actress for Emma Stone and Adapted Screenplay for Tony McNamara. Greta Gerwig’s box office smash Barbie fell away somewhat, notching up just five noms after being longlisted for 15 alongside Oppenheimer and Killers of the Flower Moon. The film is absent from the Best Film and Director categories but landed in Original Screenplay and Best Actress (Margot Robbie). Killers of the Flower Moon ended up with nine nominations. The three-hour-plus pic pops up in Best Film, Supporting Actor for Robert DeNiro and Cinematography for Rodrigo Prieto, but didn’t land noms in either Best Director or Best Actress (Lily Gladstone), where it had been longlisted and earmarked as a frontrunner. Gladstone’s omission was a particular surprise.
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More to watch: Other leading films include Anatomy of a Fall, The Holdovers and Maestro, which all got seven noms. Andrew Haigh’s enigmatic drama All of Us Strangers landed six nods and Emerald Fennell’s controversial high-society offering Saltburn netted five. Standout British titles in this year’s crop include Raine Allen Miller’s debut feature Rye Lane, which landed two (Outstanding British Film and Best Actress for Vivian Oparah), and Molly Manning Walker’s How to Have Sex, which got three (Outstanding British Film, Outstanding Debut and Casting.) As Andreas’ analysis noted, BAFTA has purposefully pushed to make the noms more diverse, including more British films. The crop unveiled this week is testament to that strategy. Bar Best Director, Andreas notes there appeared to be a solidly diverse selection overall, so bravo to BAFTA CEO Jane Millichip and her gang over at 195 Piccadilly.
Higgs all round: Discussing the high-profile omissions with Deadline shortly after the noms were announced, BAFTA Film Head Anna Higgs said it’s impossible to “play a guessing game” around what the organization’s “nearly 8,000 voters” choose to vote for. “The field is so competitive. This year, our entries are up, so we’ve had more films to consider, but our members have been watching more hours and more films than ever before,” she said. “We really are trying to level the playing field and see films on their own merit, so there is a broader range of films in there.” There you have it.
The event: The BAFTA Film Awards take place February 18, where winners will be announced during a ceremony hosted by actor David Tennant. Earlier this week, BAFTA announced that June Givanni, the British film curator and writer best known for her work chronicling African and African diaspora cinema, will receive an honorary Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema award on the night. “June has been a pioneering force in the preservation, study and celebration of Africa and African Diaspora cinema and Black British cultural heritage,” said Millichip.
Amazon’s International “Rebalance”
Layoffs: Last week, Amazon’s U.S. mothership announced plans to eliminate “several hundred” roles at the Prime Video and Amazon MGM Studios divisions, after a review of the content business. The move has led to cuts in various division, with the first international office hit being Southeast Asia last week, as we revealed at the time. This week, I caught wind of major structural changes in the Africa and Middle East & North Africa teams. As it turns out, both units are facing layoffs and the end of original content spend, as was the case in Southeast Asia. At the same time, Prime Video EMEA VP Barry Furlong has identified a set of countries in Europe that have been gaining traction, and decided to “rebalance” investment in their favor. European operations have been split in two, EU Established and EU Emerging, with the likes of Benelux, the Nordics and the CEE region housed there. Regional program strategy chiefs will also be introduced in EMEA, Asia Pacific and Latin America, as was the case in Southeast Asia. In short, Amazon is doubling down on those areas it sees as providing the biggest opportunities, and scaling back where the outlook is tougher. The news will come as a major disappointment to the African content community, with Amazon having only been in the game there since 2022. In Diana Lodderhose’s excellent analysis of African streaming in October last year, Prime Video Africa said it was planning for “continued, long-term investment in sub-Saharan Africa.” Less progress had seemingly been made in the MENA region. One informed source described this latest restructure as “Prime Video triumphing over Amazon MGM Studios,” which is one way to look at it. With a restructure as wide as this, there’s bound to be more to say, so check back on deadline.com for the latest.
Oh, Canada: Despite the mass layoffs and restructures going on around the world, Amazon MGM Studios found time to head out of LA and north of the border to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new 160,000 square foot production hub at Pinewood Toronto Studios. Amazon’s production wing has made shows such as The Boys and Gen V in Canada already, but this latest move is a major show of faith in the country’s production assets. Of course, Canada has very healthy funding structures in place, which could encourage Amazon to order more shows with Canadian storylines, but the current plans to bring in streamer regulation (more on that below) has ground local greenlights to a halt, sources tell us.
Buzzy Year Ahead For French Cinema
Making the Rendez-vous: French film and TV promotional body Unifrance kicked off the 2024 markets and festival calendar this week with its 26th Rendez-vous in Paris this week. More than 420 cinema buyers from 50 countries were in attendance as 40 film sales companies unveiled their French cinema slates for the year. Another 100 TV buyers were also in town for the fledgeling TV market screenings launched in 2022 following the merger of Unifrance and France TV International. “It’s the place to be” (as they say in France) for European buyers of French fare, and this year, for the first time, a smattering of invitees from Latin America. “Just about every European distributor who counts is here,” Unifrance MD Daniela Elstner told Deadline. On the cinema side, the big draw is to get handle on what’s being lined up for the Berlinale, Cannes or beyond. Hot upcoming films this year included Gilles Lellouche’s Beating Hearts for Studiocanal, Nils Tavernier’s The Future Awaits for Ginger & Ted and Emmanuel Courcol’s The Marching Band for Playtime. The vibe around the sales agent stands at the Collectionneur Hotel, a stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomphe, was buzzy, amid a sense that the indie film sector is finally turning a corner after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Box office boom: Unifrance’s annual international box office report for 2023, released as per tradition on the opening day of the market, revealed a 37.8% jump for international receipts for French film to $256M in 2023. The figures are still some 19% off the last pre-pandemic levels of 2019, but the international performances of feature animation Miraculous, Cannes Palme d’Or winner and Oscar hopeful Anatomy of A Fall and costume dramas Jeanne du Barry and The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan helped fuel optimism about the sector. One surprise in the data was the fact that Russia was the top territory for French cinema in 2023, on the back of Miraculous and Jeanne du Barry. Sales professionals debated the phenomenon in a panel after the stats but there was no clear consensus on how to deal with the territory in the light of its war on Ukraine.
Pélisson in person: This year’s Paris Rendez-vous also marked the inaugural edition for ex-TF1 boss Gilles Pélisson in his new role as president. He is hoping to bring his experience at the commercial broadcasting giant to bear in support of French film and TV. “It’s all about the French cultural potential, how to expand it and export it and how, within the international context, to help smaller players, European players exist,” he told Deadline. “I thought I could add something to this project.” Read a full interview with Pélisson and Elstner here.
Supply & Demands
Regulation shot: Around the world, governments are facing tough decisions as they try to regulate global streamers. This week, a group of 20 influential producer bodies united to demand lawmakers ensure their rules are robust and protect the intellectual property rights that producers consider their lifeblood. The statement — which was the brainchild of Australia’s SPA, Canada’s CMPA and Europe’s EPC — calls for a number of measures to be introduced, primarily focusing on stopping streamers from taking all rights to the content they commission. There were also demands relating to correcting “market failure and any imbalance in commercial bargaining power,” up-skilling, recognition of local stories and other financial arrangements. It’s a tough spot for governments: On the one hand, their instinct is to protect the local producers who tell their country’s stories, but on the other they do not want to frighten off the deep-pocketed global streaming services whose investment is so critical to film and TV sectors desperate for money. For their part, Netflix, Prime Video and co believe their commitments to markets around the world show they do not need rules dictating what they can and can’t do, or how they spend their money. Amazon cutting original content teams in Asia, Africa and MENA this month won’t have helped that argument, but there is still a lot of cash being poured into markets around the world. As if on cue, Ampere Analysis published scripted TV research this morning pointing to a “Hollywood displacement,” with far more streamer shows now being ordered outside the U.S. than in it. This one isn’t even close to resolution, folks.
Snowdance Film Festival
“Fender-bendered into dividers”: The Sundance Film Festival is a seriously snowy one this year, as Deadline’s Dominic Patten and Anthony D’Alessandro discovered on a drive up Route 80 to Park City in Utah. Days of snowfall and near-blizzard conditions have seen cars skidding off mountain roads and traffic backing up following accidents. Happily, those headed to the fest are being reassured that the weather will be “warmer than last year and with fewer days of snow,” according to a spokesperson. Still, take care if you’re headed into town. Kicking off yesterday, Sundance will feature several buzzy premieres such as doc The Greatest Night in Pop.
“Sundance is the f*cking sh*t”: With the event now under way, news has been coming from the likes of Oppenheimer helmer Christopher Nolan, who praised the fest’s power, and Kristen Stewart, who delivered an excitable, expletive-laden speech on stage after receiving the Visionary Award at the Opening Night gala. The full line-up for the fest, running January 18-28, was unveiled last month and 80% of movies will be up for grabs. Snow, blizzard or sunshine, there’s some cold, hard business to be done. Check back here for our full Sundance coverage, hear about the non-fiction line-up here through our Doc Talk podcast, hosted by Matt Carey and John Ridley, and make time to read Deadline Co-Editor-In-Chief Mike Fleming Jr’s movies Hot List.
🌶️ Hot One: Iconic 1960s TV series The Avengers is getting a remake, with the scribes behind Industry attached.
🌶️ A second: Early EFM package here — Three Identical Strangers producer Grace Hughes-Hallett is helming a Film4/Channel 4 feature doc about a 1960s medical scandal.
🌶️ Heat is the spice of life: Pranutan Bahl, granddaughter of Indian acting icon Nutan, will star opposite Rahsaan Noor in Chicago-filmed rom-com Coco & Nut.
📁 Filing: UK agency Independent Talent’s revenue was up nearly 7% to around $60M and made pre-tax profit of $11.5M, papers showed.
🤝 In: Hannah Griffiths, who joined Banijay as its first Head of Adaptations, as Stewart reported first on Tuesday.
🚪 Out: Banijay’s Global Scripted boss, Christian Wikander, as Max revealed later in the week.
🌎 Casting: Mohit Raina, Rashan Mathew and Sarah Jane Dias will lead SonyLIV’s Kan Khajura, a drama based on an Israeli series.
🪑 Money, money, money: The BFI unveiled the latest recipients of its Global Screen Fund payout.
🏗️ Restructure: Vue International is in discussions with shareholders and lenders about a debt-for-equity restructure.
🖼️ First look: At Netflix’s Homeless World Cup movie The Beautiful Game.
Zac Ntim and Melanie Goodfellow contributed to this week’s Insider
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