International Insider: Halyna Hutchins Tributes; Netflix & HBO Max International Growth Plans; BBC Bullying Latest; Starzplay Strategy

Happy Friday International Insiders. Max Goldbart here for the very first time giving you all the international film and TV insight you need to round off the week. To get this sent to your inbox every Friday, sign up here.

Halyna Hutchins Tributes

“A brilliant talent”: The film community was mourning Friday as tributes flooded in for Ukrainian-born cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died on Thursday after a prop gun was discharged on the set of Rust by actor Alec Baldwin. Director Adam Egypt Mortimer said he was “sad and infuriated” at her death and called Hutchins “a brilliant talent who was absolutely committed to art and to film.” The AFI Conservatory, of which Archenemy and Blindfire cinematographer Hutchins was an alum, followed up by stating “words alone cannot capture the loss of one so dear to our community. At AFI, we pledge to see that Halyna Hutchins will live on in the spirit of all who strive to see their dreams realized in stories well told.” Hutchins was originally from Ukraine and grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle. She holds a graduate degree in International Journalism from Kyiv National University in Ukraine and previously worked as an investigative journalist with British documentary productions in Europe. News is still unfolding about the events that took place in New Mexico, which also left director Joel Souza injured, while Baldwin was questioned and then discharged by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department.

Netflix International Growth Path 

The mind boggles: We’ve entered “mind boggling” territory. Household views for Squid Game are closing in on the 150m mark, according to Netflix’s Q3 earnings report this week, which kept the attention of TV trades and beyond worldwide. A letter to investors said the Korean language horror-drama has “pierced the cultural zeitgeist,” topping the Netflix charts in almost 100 countries and leading Co-CEOs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos to rock up to the earnings call in Squid Game-themed tracksuits. Netflix’s higher-than-expected Q3 subs increase of 4.4m was in no small part put down to the show’s success, although it’s worth noting that it was only released a fortnight before Q3 ended. That fact could be the reason for Netflix’s anticipated 8m-sub additions in Q4. Watch this space. 

International era: But it isn’t only Squid Game driving growth and the era of international drama domination is once again the hot topic. Nellie Andreeva revealed Tuesday that the streamer is teaming with Slumdog Millionaire superstar Freida Pinto on The Henna Artist, a series based on Alka Joshi’s bestselling debut from Miramax TV and comprising part of a first-look deal with writer and exec Sri Rao. Elsewhere, season five of Spanish mega-hit La Casa de Papel (aka Money Heist) was viewed by 69m households through the quarter and Netflix has forecast Denmark’s The Chestnut Man to be watched by approximately two thirds of Danish subs during its first four weeks. Hastings confidently pronounced: “The Next Squid Game is likely digesting in the Netflix content engine.”

Ratings revamp: Meanwhile, ratings geeks the world over were (somewhat) celebrating as Netflix used the quarterly call to reveal a shake-up to the way in which it measures and releases data, switching to reporting on hours viewed rather than household numbers and thereby doing  away with the much-derided two-minutes-equals-a-view approach. Industry execs in the international space have repeatedly urged Netflix to adopt a similar approach to local broadcasters since the SVoD entered the mainstream and Hastings told the 2019 UK RTS Cambridge Convention that the streamer wanted to be part of [UK measurement body] Barb. While that feels some way off, this week’s news is progress.

HBO Max Originals Masterplan 

Dane-and-date: Netflix isn’t the only streamer going hard in the international drama space. WarnerMedia’s HBO Max revealed Danish drama series Kamikaze will be the first show commissioned and produced from Europe to launch simultaneously in all territories. The move brings the streamer in line with rivals such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple in terms of launching shows in all of its markets at the same time, giving them the opportunity to create a global buzz on social media and replicate the success of breakout local-language hits such as, yep you guessed it, Squid Game.

Teething Problems For BBC Bullying Overhaul

Meetings in the diary: The BBC will meet with leading industry bodies over the coming weeks to work out how its new anti-bullying and harassment guidelines, revealed exclusively by Deadline last week, can be met. While broadly welcomed by UK indie bosses, production managers reported being “overwhelmed” with paperwork. “The BBC is passing the buck to production companies and bombarding them in an already stretched and exhausting, lacking-in-resources environment,” said one. Ouch.

Starzplay Strategy 

Superna Kalle sit-down: Having broken the news last week of Starz’ international streamer Starzplay/Sony Pictures’ ambitious multi-lingual drama series Xrey about Spain’s controversial former king Juan Carlos I, Deadline sat down with president of international networks Superna Kalle for a strategy chat. Speaking to Tom Grater, Superna talked co-pro opportunities, Spanish appeal and revealed the number of projects the streamer has formally committed to.

Ryders On The Storm

Black creatives rally round “vetoed” candidate: The BBC found itself in hot water over a race  issue yet again this week, with senior Black and  Asian UK creatives including legendary comedian Lenny Henry (pictured) penning an open  letter to Chair Richard Sharp seeking reassurances that “advocating for our industry to be diverse will not block people from being employed by the BBC.” The controversy surrounds the reported “vetoing” by Director General Tim Davie of diversity campaigner Marcus Ryder to a senior BBC News role. Ryder is due to meet with Davie on 9 November and the BBC has said it is “wrong to suggest any veto was exercised,” but the episode is threatening to turn into the corporation’s latest PR nightmare. This one looks set to run and run.

The Essentials 

🌶️  Hot One of the week: Andreas had the exclusive on Amazon Studios’ circa-$30M acquisition of Garth Davis’ sci-fi thriller Foe.

🌶️  Another one: High in the Clouds’ Jon Croker is to adapt anticipated fantasy novel series Skandar And The Unicorn Thief for Sony Pictures.

🌶️  Another one:  Black British boxing sensation Len Johnson’s story is to be told in a feature film from Rush exec Guy East, penned by the “godmother of Black British playwrights” Winsome Pinnock.

🍿 Box Office: Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic Dune is expected to land in the $70M+ range as its long-awaited US opening takes place this weekend.

🚚  On the move: In the UK, former Shine development boss Jonathan Meenagh has been snapped up by Lion TV to aid the indie’s Stateside push

🚚  On the move:  ITV Studios’ veteran production boss Sally Debonnaire has called time on an illustrious 40-year career that included stints managing Talkback and Avalon. 

🏆  Awards Circuit: The Berlin International Film Festival has signed up The Sixth Sense filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan as its 2022 jury president.

🏆  Awards Circuit: Iran is to send Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero to the Oscars and Mexico will do the same for Netflix flick Prayers For The Stolen

Tom Grater contributed to this week’s International Insider

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