CANNES, France, Oct. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Major companies and household names from the film and internet world this week lined up alongside their television counterparts for one of the biggest MIPCOMs ever. MIPCOM 2012 cemented a coming together of all sectors of the entertainment business and showed an appetite for developing international deals. The market also welcomed a stellar line-up of keynotes, speakers and stars.
The mood at MIPCOM reflected the sunny October sky, as some 12,900 delegates from 104 countries, including 4,400 buyers, negotiated and networked their way throughout the event. Of those buyers, over 500 were making dedicated VOD acquisitions. And throughout the show, conference speaker after speaker stressed that the key to success in the crowded distribution market is to concentrate on high-quality, original programming and great story-telling.
Confirming the international attraction of MIPCOM, there were significant increases in the number of companies attending from Latin America (+36%), China (116 companies +30%), South Korea (119 companies +12%) and Country of Honour Canada (252 companies +11%). In addition, the number of US companies in Cannes rose 11%, with all the major US studios in town, including a debut appearance from DreamWorks, represented by DreamWorks Animation and Classics.
Film names cross to TV
In a competitive market, an increasing number of production companies are hiring A-list names to create original programming. Meanwhile, many companies came to Cannes with talent, big name producers or show reels, as a sign of their commitment to their programmes and to international buyers.
Attending his first MIPCOM, iconic independent film producer/distributor Harvey Weinstein unveiled The Weinstein Company's plans to expand in television production and distribution with the likes of epic drama series 'Marco Polo,' reality series 'Supermarket Superstars' and documentary series 'Seal Team Six.' And he chose MIPCOM to unveil a new initiative - the World Dance Awards – a live TV show conceived by dancing wizard Michael Flatley.
Explaining his strategy, Harvey Weinstein told his audience, "TV is such an exciting area at the moment and movies are shrinking to some extent. So it's the right time for us to get into TV in a big way."
Like Harvey Weinstein, Oscar-winning writer/director Jane Campion is more used to attending the Cannes Film Festival. So 2012 was her debut appearance at MIPCOM to discuss her first foray into television via drama series 'Top of the Lake', starring Elisabeth Moss, Peter Mullan and Holly Hunter.
But perhaps the show that really emphasises the blurring of lines between film, television and web-based companies is 'House of Cards.' The re-make of the classic 1990 British mini-series is destined for video-on-demand platform Netflix, features film and theatre giant Kevin Spacey ('The Usual Suspects,' 'LA Confidential,' 'American Beauty') and Robin Wright (Forrest Gump,' 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'), is directed by David Fincher ('The Social Network') and is being distributed internationally by Sony Pictures Television. Attending MIPCOM to present 'House of Cards' to potential buyers, Kevin Spacey noted, "When you look where the most interesting plot lines, storylines and characters are, it's in television."
Other high-profile stars and producers to be found on the Croisette this week included Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, in Cannes to accompany one of the highlights of the event, the World Premiere TV Screening of FX's 'The Americans,' distributed by 20th Century Fox Television Distribution, which played to a packed and enthusiastic house. Also present, British cuisine guru Nigella Lawson, 'The Walking Dead' producer Gale Anne Hurd, with star Sarah Wayne Callies, 'NCIS' cop Michael Weatherly, alongside the show's executive producer Gary Glasberg, 'X-Files' star Gillian Anderson and 'Saving Hope' doctor Erica Durance.
As part of MIPCOM's Canada Country of Honour programme, Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund brought a host of Canadian talent to Cannes. Among them; Francois Arnaud ('The Borgias'), Michel Courtemanche ('Walter 100%', 'Le Noel de Walter & Tandoori'), Stefanie von Pfetten ('NCIS'), David Sutcliffe ('Private Practice'), Ricardo ('Ricardo and Friends'), Eve Landry ('Unite 9') and Amber Marshall ('Heartland').
Digital players seek content
"Companies such as Netflix, Google/YouTube or Hulu have been attending MIPCOM for several years, but mostly as buyers," commented Laurine Garaude, Director of Reed MIDEM's Television Division, which organises MIPCOM. "Today, they are very much involved in developing great content."
As for Google/YouTube, Robert Kyncl, Google/YouTube's Vice President, Global Head of Content, grabbed MIPCOM headlines by announcing the company is to launch 60 new channels in the UK, Germany and France, with original content coming from such TV heavyweights as FremantleMedia, BBC Worldwide, Endemol and All3Media. He urged the content production community to embrace YouTube.
Jason Kilar, CEO of online TV service Hulu told MIPCOM delegates that his company has spent $500 million on content this year. He stressed that Hulu is working closely with traditional broadcasting heavyweights, bringing the BBC's 'Misfits' to US audiences and Nickelodeon content to Hulu for the first time, thanks to a deal with Viacom.
Canada flag flies high as Country of Honour
With a population of 35 million people and a next door neighbor called the United States, the Canadian television sector is punching above its weight. As the MIPCOM Country of Honour, Canada took the opportunity to emphasize a renewed commitment from Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund, to channel funding towards programming that has international appeal. In particular, Quebecor President Pierre Karl Peladeau called for funding to be targeted at programmes that have international potential. Speaking to MIPCOM delegates, he said that the Canadian funding bodies and industry had to target companies that "start developing strong original concepts that will be popular across platforms and markets."
Among the various deals that Canadian companies closed during Cannes, Nelvana Enterprises signed a major content acquisition and representation deal with China's Ciwen Media Group. Under the terms of the agreement, Ciwen has exclusive distribution rights in China to over 1,000 half hours of animated and live-action Nelvana programming. Nelvana also concluded a deal with Discovery Kids Latin America to broadcast the CG-animated preschool series 'Mike the Knight.' Meanwhile Distribution 360 closed deals on its Lifestyle series 'Puppy SOS' to ViaSat in Scandinavia and True Vision Branded Channel in Thailand.
International is the MIPCOM mantra
While individual countries, especially in Europe, may be feeling economic pressure at the moment, MIPCOM confirmed that there is an ever-increasing need for cross-border business and networking. In a MIPCOM first, over 100 of the most influential women working in the international television sector, came together for Global Entertainment Power Lunch, in partnership with A+E Networks.
"As well as this great gathering of women executives, this year, we have developed important initiatives based around regions that are showing strong growth in the international market. In addition to our Country of Honour, Canada, we have focused on Latin America, which is a high-growth region," said Reed MIDEM's Laurine Garaude. Among the new initiatives, the first LATAM Global Dealmakers Networking Lunch, which brought together 80 of the most influential executives operating in the Latin American region. Headline speaker Adriana Cisneros de Griffin, Vice Chairman and Vice President of Strategy of the Cisneros Group of Companies, described how a growing middle class and a surge in new digital media platforms are changing the television business in Latin America.
And MIPCOM's Personality of the Year, Grupo Televisa's President and CEO, Emilio Azcarraga Jean, confirmed that Televisa is leading the way in supplying the Latin American and Spanish-speaking market with content.
In his MIPCOM keynote address, the Grupo Televisa President said that over the past five years, foreign co-productions have been one of the priorities for his group, but that at the same time as supplying the Spanish-speaking market, Televisa has been making concerted inroads in the United States' English-speaking market with such partners as Lionsgate. In January 2012, Televisa signed a ground-breaking deal with Sony Pictures Television (SPT) for SPT to have a first look at all Televisa's scripted and unscripted formats for potential co-production worldwide, outside the US and Latin America.
"This kind of agreement really shows how the television business is open to extraordinary international opportunities," noted MIPCOM's Laurine Garaude. "Whether it is in Latin America, Russia, China, or the Middle East, we have seen new players and new activity at MIPCOM."
About MIPCOM – MIPCOM is the year's most anticipated global market for entertainment content across all platforms. Each Autumn, the industry's international heavy hitters – from TV and film – converge in Cannes to create a new world of entertainment. MIPCOM turns every moment into an opportunity, transforming four days of meetings, screenings and conferences into deals – from blockbuster programming to ground-breaking partnerships. And the children's entertainment industry gets an early start at MIPJunior, where key international buyers, sellers and producers gather to present, discover and screen content at the world's showcase for kids programming.
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SOURCE Reed MIDEM