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Cineflix Rights

Programming Profile

Cineflix Rights builds on factual slate with international drama


James Durie and Richard Life of Cineflix Rights showcase the UK-based distributor’s Content London playlist, discussing its recent scripted focus and opportunities for collaboration across a diverse slate.


London-based Cineflix Rights, the UK’s largest independent TV content distributor, provides premium scripted and factual programming to more than 500 broadcasters and platforms globally.


For head of acquisitions Richard Life, Cineflix’s recent move into the scripted space is part of its ongoing evolution. “Traditionally, we’ve mainly focused on unscripted, which the business was built on. But in recent years, through our own productions with Cineflix Studios, third-party acquisition activity, and our joint venture Buccaneer Media, scripted has now become very important. James Durie, who joined us to head up scripted, is a big part of that,” he says.


“We obviously realised the benefits of being across both scripted and unscripted. And with a proven track record in factual, we wanted to rival that in drama. We’ve had some great successes over the last two to three years, and are really looking to build on that,” adds Durie, pointing to the company’s signature scripted project.


James Durie, Cineflix Rights

“Tehran is a great example of an international production, which is a key component of what we want to do,” says Durie. “Tehran has proven to be a major success and shows what is possible with fantastic writing and a really well-made production.”


The 8×60’ Israeli espionage thriller is produced by Donna and Shula Productions in association with Paper Plane Productions, Cineflix Rights and Cosmote TV for Kan 11. “We were all pleasantly surprised it was the kind of show that Apple TV+ wanted to acquire and to promote as heavily as they have done,” says Durie. “We’re talking to a number of producers, particularly across emerging production territories like Israel, where there are great storytellers and production companies, to hopefully repeat its success.”


Cineflix has seen the global market respond well to other international titles on its slate, with the next three playlist choices also travelling. “We’ve had great success in the US, where diversification of the market has been a key component to that. We recently announced a multi-series package with SVoD platform Topic, which includes our Russian series An Ordinary Woman (17×60’), Icelandic political drama The Minister (8×60’) and Happily Married (10×45’) from Quebec,” says Durie.


Richard Life, Cineflix Rights

“These are three fantastic shows that have found a really great home at Topic, bringing them to the wider North American market. We’re seeing in a number of territories that buyers are much more open to international content as long as the story is told well, and the productions are of high quality. We don’t see the provenance of a show as a barrier to sale as it was perhaps 18 to 24 months ago.”


Happily Married, produced by Productions Casablanca, was a Berlinale Series 2020 official selection. “During the last couple of years, we’ve been looking to build relationships in different countries, as sometimes it’s very hard to compete in the UK and the US, where there are very big beasts circling the water,” says Life. “We’re a more boutique company that has made a deliberate move to go out into the world and seek projects further afield. Happily Married just stood out as something really original and different, and the premise was rather compelling,” says Life.


An Ordinary Woman
An Ordinary Woman

For Durie, being a more boutique agency is part of Cineflix’s strength. “We need to be precise in our decision-making process, picking shows we really believe in from a commercial and creative point of view. In doing that, we’re able to create a really diverse portfolio of content.”


Life points to the success of An Ordinary Woman, from Look Film and 1-2-3 Production, as coinciding with Russian drama’s increasing international resonance. “Local broadcasters are now willing to take more risks, simply investing more money and seeing the value for their own audiences,” he says. Life also believes Russia’s cinematic heritage is helping to fuel its international success. “There’s a fantastic filmmaking tradition. If you go back and look at the evolution of scripted television in any country, it’s evolved from what is an incredibly talented filmmaking base, and that’s true of Russia.”


Like the wider industry, Cineflix has had to adapt to a virtual new normal, evident when promoting Sagafilm’s The Minister. For Durie, marketing is an increasingly key component when launching new projects to the business. “We pioneered the digital premiere for The Minister, to bring new content to the market during the pandemic,” he says.


Happily Married
Happily Married

Cineflix’s successful partnership with Buccaneer Media, Co-run by Tony Wood and Richard Tulk-Hart, is behind two upcoming titles Cineflix Rights will be distributing, strengthening their participation in UK productions, notes Durie, repeating the success Cineflix Studios has had in Canada. “Whitstable Pearl (6×45’) is an exciting new take on the British crime procedural, harnessing the talents of iconic Norwegian filmmaker Øystein Karlsen and is currently shooting down on the south coast, and Crime [6×60’], a more stylised dark crime series, is the first TV adaptation from Irvine Welsh, with Dougray Scott in the lead role” he says. “What I hear loud and clear from buyers internationally is they want good, recognisable IP, stacked with talent in genres they know where they’ll go on their schedule. Crime is a very successful genre and will continue to be.”


Buccaneer’s third season of Marcella, bringing the series to a total of 24 one-hour episodes, has launched internationally on Netflix and will return to ITV in the UK. “It continues that fantastic piece of IP that has become a mainstay in the British detective genre, featuring incredible characters and storytelling, which the international market has really taken to,” says Durie. The series is currently being remade as Rebecca for TF1.


Cineflix’s next playlist titles come from Canada. “Canadian productions are currently enjoying great success,” says Durie, referring to Coroner (26×60’), produced by Muse Entertainment, Back Alley Film Productions and Cineflix Studios, and Wynonna Earp, (49×60’), produced by IDW Entertainment, Cineflix Studios and Seven24 Films. “The CW just announced they’re also taking season three of Coroner. And Wynonna Earp, which has just finished production on season four, has been an absolutely huge success for Syfy in the US, Sci-Fi in Canada, and now rolling out internationally” Durie adds.


The Minister
The Minister

Despite the shift into the scripted space, unscripted is still equally important to Cineflix. “We acquire around 350 hours of factual content a year from independent producers, which is significant. Our job is to find those shows that can break out, such as My Big Family Farm,” says Life. Produced by Renegade Pictures and Motion Content Group, the 10×60’ show, airing as Our Yorkshire Farm on Channel 5, captures what audiences are currently looking for, says Life. “We could see something in its escapist feel with strong family values as well; there was something beautiful about it. It’s an indicator of what’s popular in the market at the moment because of Covid-19, the desire for escapism, but it has a real longevity as well” he adds.


UK factual content has seen a resurgence, says Life, pointing to another playlist title, The World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys (20×60’). “Recently there’s been more interest in British factual content. The UK has always produced really good-quality factual, and we’ve been enjoying a bit of a boom that’s driven partly by gaps in schedules that have opened up by productions being put on hold.” Produced by BriteSpark Films for Channel 5 in the UK, the show “is full of beautiful locations and is the perfect tonic for people at the moment.”



Another change for Cineflix is that it’s now joining projects earlier. “It’s very competitive for content among distributors. Our creative-led approach to acquisitions is proving to be successful, which means getting on board shows early, helping to fund them through pre-sales and helping producers to get to greenlight quicker, which benefits us, the broadcaster and producer,” says Life, pointing to the next playlist choice, Inside Taronga Zoo (26×60’), produced by McAvoy Media.


“When we came on board the Australian series, there was a significant funding gap, so we took it to More 4 in the UK and National Geographic in the US, and they came in on pre-sales, which effectively closed the gap. We work very closely with the producer to ensure the show delivers on the premise, and it absolutely does,” says Life.


Having an input in productions is something Life feels benefits all parties. “Our role is to be a cheerleader from the sidelines and offer our expert advice on aspects like the voiceover, while allowing the producers to be the creative leaders on a project. Our input into a show can help it to travel,” he says.


The World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys
The World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys

Despite the difficulties of 2020, Life is upbeat how the industry has handled the Covid challenge. “A big positive has been how the distribution community has been able to adapt and continue to do business,” he says. “I’ve observed the incredible ingenuity of producers getting productions back up and running. Budgets have opened up again and there’s new commissioning coming through.”


Durie believes the pandemic has sped up inevitable industry disruption. “Covid came at a time when our market was changing dramatically,” he says. “The move towards digitisation and subscription models was always happening, it’s just been accelerated. We have the arrival of new direct-to-consumer platforms, offering new opportunities in every market at a time when it’s really needed.”


Life adds: “The fact we’ve had a successful year despite the challenges has given us the confidence to increase all our investments and we’re actively looking for new content. My message is to keep bringing us projects, as we love working with producers, wherever you are!”

More programming profiles

  • 03-10-2023

    James Durie, head of scripted at Cineflix Rights, and Sandra Piha, senior VP of sales for the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, discuss the changing market and the distributor’s scripted and factual slates for Mipcom.


    What are your thoughts on the state of the market right now?
    DURIE: Clearly, events of the last six months, heightened by the US strikes, have put an element of uncertainty into the business, which we’re hoping we’ll see the end of quite soon. But there are always opportunities. I still think that for the right kinds of shows at the right price point in the market, there are still a lot of places to take them and find success.


    How have the strikes and the downturn in the economy impacted the factual market?
    PIHA: The strikes and the advertising recession have inevitably affected our business. There are fewer commissions, smaller budgets and more curated acquisitions from channels instead of the usual big volume deals. We’ve continued working with our producing partners to help get projects greenlit via different funding models. We’ve seen some strong development slates on which we can’t wait to work together with our partners – let’s hope things turn around soon. The good news is that broadcasters have remained committed to successful returning brands that perform well.

  • 10-10-2022

    James Durie and Richard Life of Cineflix Rights break down their scripted and unscripted distribution strategy ahead of Mipcom, as they showcase their new premium drama, YA and high-volume factual.


    UK-based distributor Cineflix Rights is arriving at Mipcom celebrating its 20th anniversary on the back of a strong year – in which it has expanded its investment in scripted and continued to extend the international footprint of its flagship unscripted brands.


    On the scripted side, the company is doubling down on drama with high-profile talent attached, including the Paramount+ Australia original Last King of The Cross (10×60’, Helium Pictures), a rags-to-riches gangster story following an immigrant with no education and no prospects who ascends to become one of Australia’s most infamous nightclub moguls.

  • 29-03-2022

    A new vampire dramedy and returnable unscripted series are among the titles selected by Cineflix Rights’ James Durie, head of scripted, and Richard Life, head of acquisitions, for the company’s playlist on C21’s Digital Screenings in the lead-up to MipTV.


    Montreal-headquartered media and production company Cineflix Media, which is behind shows such as drama Tehran on Apple TV+, was set up in 1998 by co-CEOs Glen Salzman and Katherine Buck. Cineflix Rights, the company’s UK-based distribution arm, now boasts a catalogue of more than 5,500 hours of programming across a wide range of genres.


    James Durie, Cineflix Rights’ head of scripted, says the company’s focus on contemporary thrillers and young-adult content is paying off, as the genres are increasingly popular among broadcasters and streamers alike.

  • 28-02-2022

    Tim Mutimer, Cineflix Media’s CEO of Rights, has new product to show buyers this week but is also emphasising the importance of returning titles, as he talks us through his slate for the London Screenings.


    Tim Mutimer, the UK-based CEO, Rights of international producer and distributor Cineflix Media, has a busy few days ahead of him but is relishing the return to face-to-face meetings and the normality of industry events.


    “We love meeting people in person, and doing it in London will be great,” he says. “We have plenty of meetings this week for the London Screenings, we’ll have people at Series Mania and we’ll be going full steam ahead to MipTV, so it feels like we’re getting back to some kind of normality, which is fantastic.”


    As far as the company’s new programme slate is concerned, Mutimer and the Cineflix Rights team will be giving buyers an early peek at a number of new titles this week. The firm is partnering with Aussie producer Mark Fennessy’s new prodco Helium on Last King of The Cross (10×60’), an Australian original from Paramount+ that Mutimer describes as “a truly authentic depiction of gangster life, set against the backdrop of one of the most iconic locations on the planet.”

  • 10-09-2021

    Chris Bonney, outgoing CEO at Cineflix Rights, discusses the key titles on the UK-based distributor’s new slate, its strong position in the market and opportunities for collaboration.


    For Cineflix Rights CEO Chris Bonney, the company’s new content reflects its unique place in the business. “We love our position as a creatively-led independent distributor, where we can go after the content that matches our own independence: distinctive, creative and commercially appealing.”


    Bonney joined Cineflix Media in 2012 to lead Cineflix Rights, the company’s sales and acquisitions arm. Under his watch, it has grown into the UK’s largest independent TV content distributor, selling a catalogue of over 5,000 hours of scripted and factual content to more than 500 broadcasters and streamers internationally.


    Cineflix is keen on noisy content, says Bonney. “We’re looking for projects that allow us to generate a larger share of the market, by tapping into the creative strength of the project. We’re medium-sized, proud of our independence and looking for programming that keeps us top of people’s minds.”

  • 13-04-2021

    UK distributor Cineflix Rights has a wide-ranging slate of content for Spring/Summer 2021. Head of scripted James Durie and head of acquisitions Richard Life talk us through the playlist and discuss how it reflects the needs of a buoyant market.


    As the world slowly begins to return to normal, the audience’s appetite for new content is not going away. One trend that James Durie, head of scripted at Cineflix Rights, sees continuing is the popularity of crime shows.


    “Crime is a huge part of any schedule – whether it’s linear broadcasters or SVOD platforms. The appetite for both sophisticated English-language and international crime shows and big North American procedurals is still massive,” he says.


    Cineflix Rights’ new scripted slate consists of five shows, four of which are crime series. Despite being aware of the genre’s popularity, Durie insists this is a coincidence. What his company has been looking for is variety within the crime genre, something that he says buyers are also after.


    “For scripted, variety can come from the source location and the territory the show is produced in. We are used to production territories defining sub-genres, like UK cozy crime and Scandi Noir, but you can now add many more to that list. People are consuming more and more content and it’s inevitable that buyers are looking wider to fulfill that brief,” says Durie.

  • 01-03-2021

    Cineflix Rights head of acquisitions Richard Life, head of scripted James Durie and senior members of the global sales team reveal the UK-based distributor’s London Screenings playlist and discuss global trends impacting their 2021 slate.


    As the focus of international buyers shifts to the UK for February and the first two weeks of March, London-based Cineflix Rights, the UK’s largest independent TV content distributor, has launched a new web platform. The Cineflix Content Fest has been created to showcase the distributor’s premium factual and scripted programming.


    “Our engaging, interactive online experience will preview new factual and scripted content to global buyers in a creative way, allowing them to explore our new shows in their own time,” says Cineflix Rights head of acquisitions Richard Life. “We’re adapting to the new normal of bringing our slate to buyers via digital means.”


    “We now have great experience in delivering digital screenings to the market, as we did at the start of the first lockdown with the e-premiere of The Minister [8×60’],” adds head of scripted James Durie. “Alongside our returning series, we will be introducing two new scripted shows at the London Screenings.”

  • 17-06-2020

    As the largest independent distributor in the UK, Cineflix Rights blends global scale with a boutique mindset and has a slate of programming on C21’s Digital Screenings to match.


    Among international distributors, Cineflix Rights stands out as an independent company able to take advantage of parent Cineflix Media’s global scale while retaining an ability to be agile and nimble in negotiations with producers and buyers.


    It’s a position CEO Chris Bonney calls the “sweet spot,” with the business also standing on a creative front foot that has helped it build a geographically- and genre-diverse slate that boasts scripted series such as Iceland’s The Minister, Israel’s Tehran and Russia’s An Ordinary Woman alongside factual series that take viewers to all corners of the globe.