Hello, and welcome to International Insider, I’m Jake Kanter. As the Cannes Film Festival draws to a close, join me in reflecting on the past week’s film and TV news. Want to get in touch? I’m on firstname.lastname@example.org. And to get this delivered every Friday, sign up here.
Cannes Week Two
Testing times: Cannes was inevitably going to have a high-profile brush with coronavirus, and sure enough it came last weekend when we revealed that Léa Seydoux’s attendance was in doubt due to her testing positive in Paris. She canceled on Wednesday, meaning the Croisette was robbed of its rendezvous with an actress showcasing four features at the fest, including Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch and Arnaud Desplechin’s Deception. Generally, though, organizers did a good job of containing the virus, with our Tom Grater learning that the dreaded spit tests were producing an average of just three positives a day. Many delegates have been impressed by Cannes’ efficiency on Covid protocols, and are delighted to be back on the circuit again.
International Insider: Cannes Cracks On; BBC By Numbers; Euro 2020 Fever
Making a splash: One of the week’s high points was the premiere of The French Dispatch. Seydoux may have been sequestered in Paris, but Timothée Chalamet, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, and Anderson himself all made the plane. They declined a press conference amid rumors Anderson was reluctant to face Scott Rudin questions, but the pic garnered a nine-minute standing ovation, during which Swinton surreptitiously pinned her seat reservation sign to the back of Call Me By Your Name star Chalamet. The cast photocall also launched a thousand memes, with Twitter users finding Chalamet, Anderson, Swinton, and Murray’s contrasting styles irresistible. These were viral moments that bettered Adam Driver going up in smoke a week earlier. As for the film itself, our reviewer Todd McCarthy did not seem entirely convinced with what sounds like an indulgent affair, but did remark that the three-act feature is “Anderson in full flower, one that only grows in a rarified altitude.”
In reviews news, our chief film critic Pete Hammond took in Sean Penn’s Flag Day, which tells the story of a unique bond between a daughter (played by Penn’s actual daughter Dylan) and a messed-up but charismatic father (Penn himself), who spent years in prison for a bank robbery. The verdict: Flag Day is a “solid and worthwhile effort for him [Penn] both as actor and director. But first and foremost, it will be remembered as a dazzling showcase for the acting talents of his daughter.” Hammond also watched the “raw, naked, and intense” British romantic drama Mothering Sunday, featuring The Crown’s Josh O’Connor in full birthday suit, while he enjoyed rising Japanese director/writer Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “brooding and introspective” Drive My Car.
Creating headlines: Oliver Stone was in town being his usual unfiltered self. He sat down with Tom to expound on the U.S being an “empire in fear” as he sees “censorship” clashing with the American Dream. He doubled down during a press conference on Tuesday, during which he argued that American financiers appear reluctant to support films about U.S. political history after he turned to the UK to fund his documentary JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass. Todd McCarthy said the pic is “riveting” and won him round to Stone’s “impassioned, obsessive and tirelessly researched views on one of the most devastating and consequential crimes of modern times.” Todd wasn’t the only one convinced by Stone’s passion piece — Altitude shopped the film to France’s L’Atelier Distribution this week.
In other deals news, indie distributor and streamer MUBI continued its remarkable Cannes buying spree, taking the rights from The Match Factory to Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Swinton-starring Cannes Competition drama Memoria for Germany, Italy, Latin America, and India. Andreas Wiseman had the scoop. Tom also revealed that MUBI signed a multi-territory deal for Sebastian Meise’s second feature Great Freedom, which premiered in Un Certain Regard.
Over in our Cannes Studio, the big guns were on the sofa. Matt Damon stopped by to discuss Tom McCarthy’s Stillwater, while Josh O’Connor talked about getting his kit off in Mothering Sunday. Other guests included Marion Cotillard, who opened up about Bigger Than Us, a new documentary she executive produces from director Flore Vasseur, which explores the social movement of young people fighting for change in the 21st Century.
All eyes on Saturday, when the fest culminates with the Palme d’Or awards. Jodie Foster and Italian director Marco Bellocchio will be among those collecting honors at the closing ceremony.
Europe Joins SPAC Frenzy
Power players: After a long and distinguished career at WarnerMedia, Paris-based German executive Iris Knobloch (pictured) is joining the SPAC frenzy. Together with powerful partners at Artemis, a holding company backed by François-Henri Pinault, the billionaire French businessman married to Salma Hayek, she planning to launch I2PO in a €275 million ($325M) listing on Euronext Paris next week. Full story.
SPAC 101: For those unfamiliar with SPACs, it’s a short way of saying special purpose acquisition company. These so-called “blank-check” vehicles are basically shells that go public to look for private companies to buy. Selling to a SPAC is generally seen as an easier and cheaper route to an IPO. Wall Street has been going nuts for the financial vehicles, but as Knobloch tells me, it’s relatively unexplored territory in Europe. Indeed, she says I2PO is the first European SPAC targetting the entertainment space, and she is the first woman to run such a company on the continent.
Shopping list: Knobloch says she already has a list of acquisition targets in mind. She will be looking to partner with streaming fimrs in video, music, and podcasting, while gaming is another area of focus. Knobloch is not, however, examining film and TV production. “We’re looking at companies that own media IP. It’s really the step before the content production,” she adds.
The long game: This is no ephemeral get-rich-quick scheme — Knobloch says she wants to build I2PO into a genuine European powerhouse. “We are all in it for the long run. The idea is really to build a European champion,” says the former WarnerMedia president of France, Benelux, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. “Our desire is to partner with the owners, the founders, and management teams and do the journey together with them.”
Brits Invade Emmys
Crowning glory: Tuesday’s Emmy Awards nominations provided the perfect snapshot of the UK’s outsized influence over Hollywood tastemakers. Britain’s crowning achievement was, well, The Crown, which tied with The Mandalorian as the most nominated show in the race. Meanwhile, a new queen of UK television has emerged in the shape of Michaela Coel, who has three nominations to her name in acting, directing, and writing categories for her blistering series I May Destroy You. The BBC/HBO show has nine noms in total, making its snub at the hands of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association all the more bewildering.
Rule Britannia: Even if the show is not made on British shores, it will almost certainly feature British talent, judging by many of the top contenders. To that end, stars including Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown), Hugh Grant (The Undoing), Paul Bettany (WandaVision), Ewan McGregor (Halston), and Regé-Jean Page (Bridgerton) carpet the Emmy nominations list like icing on a Victoria sponge. Check out the full nominations right here.
Good timing: It’s a reminder that the UK’s TV biz is truly something to be celebrated. It is an astonishing creative and economic success story. That is worth remembering as the industry braces for a defining period, during which the future level of the BBC license fee will be agreed upon, a decision will be made about privatizing Channel 4, and decades-old media legislation will be reformed.
🍿 International box office: Disney/Marvel’s Black Widow began weaving its web in 46 material offshore markets this session, ending the weekend with an international box office debut of $78.8M. Nancy Tartaglione has the details.
😔 RIP Renée Dorléac: The French actress and mother of actresses Catherine Deneuve, Francoise Dorléac, and Sylvie Dorléac, died aged 109 in Paris. Full obit.
⚽ Euro 2020 ratings: Italy’s triumph over England in the Euro 2020 final was watched by a peak audience of 31 million viewers in the UK, making it one of the most-watched TV moments in the country’s history. Full story.
🔫 Pistols at dawn: Danny Boyle’s much-anticipated FX Sex Pistols biopic Pistol has run into the moshpit of a band at war, as it has emerged that John Lydon wants to block use of the band’s music in the series. Go deeper.
🚚 On the move: International production veterans Shebnem Askin and Michael Rifkin have been appointed co-heads of Sony Pictures International Productions. Nancy had the scoop.
📅 Diary date: The BBC Studios Showcase will take place online for a second time in 2022 amid continued uncertainty over international travel during the pandemic. The event is slated for February 28-March 2, 2022.
🎦 Trailer dash: We revealed the good-looking first trailer for Jacques Audiard’s anticipated Cannes Film Festival movie Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades), which debuted this week on the Croisette. Watch here.
Brilliant Bill: Cannes is as much a catwalk as it is a celebration of cinema, and there has been a certain thrill in seeing a sprinkling of Hollywood glamour back at the Palais des Festivals, which has doubled as a Covid vaccination center until very recently. If there is one film at the fest stuffed full of dedicated followers of fashion, then surely it is Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch. And so it proved at the pic’s photocall on Tuesday, which gave us Tilda Swinton, resplendent in a dazzlingly sharp Haider Ackermann suit, and Timothée Chalamet in an understated tie-dyed Elara tee. But the eye was inevitably drawn to a certain Bill Murray, who shirked the chic and opted for a VERY LOUD print on his Hawaiian shirt, and matched it with a fedora hat and some infinitely practical On sneakers. Only those charging around the Croisette all day in Cannes’ sweltering heat will truly appreciate Murray’s sartorial selections. Bill, we salute you!