Bye-bye, Peak TV. After more than a decade of unprecedented production growth, the international television industry is bracing for an era of tighter budgets and more bean counting.
“Instead of subscriber growth at all costs, now the focus is on production and investment and getting the balance sheet right,” says Cathy Payne, CEO of Banijay Rights, the sales arm of the production giant behind reality TV hits Big Brother and high-end dramas Peaky Blinders and Black Mirror. “I hate using the phrase because everyone says it, but the focus now is on ‘fewer, better, bigger shows.’ ”
The variety of shows on offer at this year’s global TV market in Cannes, MIPCOM, suggests every buyer, at every budget, should find something to fill their slots. And while THR’s annual hot list of the market’s best new drama series ranges from a by-the-book NBC procedural to an erotic comedy about Norway’s 1970s porn king, the industry is clearly moving toward the safer and more reliable and away from the risky and cutting-edge.
“We saw how incredibly well Suits did on Netflix, for example, and we’ve relaunched [the Australian soap opera] Neighbours on Amazon’s Freevee in the U.K.,” notes Jens Richter, CEO of commercial and international at production giant Fremantle. “Most global buyers and platforms, as well as local buyers, will be looking for shows that are still premium quality but a touch more mainstream, with a focus on repeatability.”
Stars Guy Menaster, Amjad Shawa, Bat Hen Sabag
Buzz This Israeli dark comedy set in a juvie facility is inspired by the true story of a young man imprisoned for murder. Courtesy of Ron Leshem (creator of the original Israeli Euphoria series on which the HBO show is based) and Bosch director Hagar Ben-Asher, the show could attract keen interest from buyers thanks to the success of Italian juvenile detention series The Sea Beyond, a hit in its home market.
Sales Marenzi & Associates
Stars Julia de Nunez, Victor Belmondo
Buzz This biographical series about the early years of the iconic French actress and model is already a European hit — it drew an average of 3.2 million viewers an episode on France 2 and was a top 10 Netflix release across Germany, Switzerland and the Benelux territories — but the appeal of 1960s swinging Paris and the star-is-born performance of de Nunez should draw buyers from farther afield.
Sales Federation Studios
Stars Dominique Devenport, David Kross, Jeanette Hain
Buzz A spy thriller with a twist — this six-part limited series traces the early days of the European secret services at the beginning of World War I — Davos 1917 looks like a potential star-making role for Devenport, who drew raves for her performance as the empress of Austria in the German drama Sisi (2021).
Sales Global Screen
Stars Diaana Babnicova, Elliott Rose, Kit Rakusen
Buzz The mind-bending decision of the BBC and Germany’s ZDF to pick Danish enfant terrible filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn — director of Drive, The Neon Demon and Netflix’s Copenhagen Cowboy — to remake Enid Blyton’s beloved children’s adventure classic, about four fast friends and their intrepid dog, Kip, ensures this is one reboot everyone will want to check out.
Sales BBC Studios
In the Name of Love
Stars Maria Bonnevie, Trond Espen Seim, Jakob Oftebro
Buzz Based on the real-life experiences of series director Bard Breien, this Nordic erotic comedy looks like a nice fit for streamers or high-end pay TV players. It follows Lars Breien (Espen Seim), who builds up a secret adult entertainment empire in buttoned-down 1970s Norway (where hard-core pornography was only legalized in 2006) but faces a challenge from his feminist schoolteacher wife (Bonnevie), who fiercely disapproves of his day job.
Sales Viaplay Content Distribution
Stars Jesse L. Martin, Maahra Hill
buzz With networks and streamers worldwide looking for dependable, repeatable series, old-school procedurals are back in style, and this NBC crime drama, starring Law & Order veteran Martin as a behavioral science professor who helps out the government and the police on cases they can’t solve, has all the elements to be the next mainstream global hit. It began airing in late September on NBC and Peacock.
Sales NBCUniversal Global Distribution
Stars Clive Owen
Buzz AMC is going full noir with this spinoff of Dashiell Hammett’s legendary hard-boiled Sam Spade franchise. Owen plays the chain-smoking private eye of The Maltese Falcon fame, now a retiree in southern France brought back into the game with a case involving six murdered nuns and a mysterious, perhaps supernatural child. Directed by Scott Frank (The Queen’s Gambit, Godless) and co-written by Frank and Tom Fontana (Oz, Borgia), this show, which airs in the U.S. in early 2024 on AMC Networks, has “streamer sale” written all over it.
Sales FilmNation Entertainment
Stars Gantanter Singh Gill, Emma Booth
Buzz One of the few standout YA series on offer, this Australian music-themed drama follows the meteoric rise and fall of Harlow, a fictional manufactured girl group coming of age at the cusp of the new millennium. Remixing late ’90s nostalgia for a new generation looks like it could be a hitmaking formula.
Sales Entertainment One
Stars Michelle Dockery, Nicholas Pinnock
Buzz The new series from Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is the sort of high-end drama streamers and pay TV outlets likely will be fighting over. The family saga/high-stakes thriller is set in the working-class neighborhoods of Coventry and Birmingham during the late 1970s, when Black, white and Asian youths were united in their love of ska and two-tone music.
Sales Banijay Rights
Stars Natalie Dormer, Brendon Daniels
Buzz Game of Thrones alum Dormer leads this South Africa-set thriller, playing a journalist who teams up with a local detective (Daniels) to investigate the ugly underbelly of the wealthy Cape Town neighborhood of Bishopscourt after her brother’s bloody murder. The solid genre setup, combined with Dormer’s star power and the exotic Cape Town setting — rarely seen on primetime screens — should pique the interest of both free-to-air and pay television buyers.
This story first appeared in the Oct. 11 issue of The Music news magazine. Click here to subscribe.