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Cineflix Rights

Programming Profile

Variety is the spice of life for Cineflix


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.


James Durie, Cineflix Rights

Cineflix Rights’ crime slate fulfils this, with series from all over the world. One show that arrives with a domestic pedigree is Israeli series Manayek (10×45’), from Yoav Gross Productions. The show, which tells the story of a veteran police officer tasked with taking down his corrupt best friend and colleague, has convinced Durie of the potential of Israeli IP, following the global success of Cineflix Rights-distributed Tehran (16×60′) on Apple TV+.


“Israel is in a fantastic spot at the moment. They’re taking risks in storytelling and development like the Scandinavians have been doing for the last 10 years. We’re also seeing the same from a number of other territories including Russia and Quebec with some fantastic content coming from them. As viewers become accustomed to seeing content from those areas, we’ll see a lot more of it in the future,” Durie says.


Another show Cineflix Rights is hoping will develop its offering is Rebecca (8×60’), a new French crime series based on the ITV/Netflix series Marcella, produced by Buccaneer Media, a Cineflix Media JV company. Rebecca was acquired from French prodco Elephant prior to its broadcast on TF1 and the remake is set in Paris. The fast-paced thriller follows a tormented yet brilliant detective who is battling depression and a series of blackouts while piecing together a brutal murder investigation that increasingly brings her inner circle and past investigation into the unfolding story.


Richard Life, Cineflix Rights

While international language programming is becoming more important to Cineflix Rights’ strategy, English-language content remains crucial as does the ability to stand out in a crowd. According to Richard Life, head of acquisitions, the distribution market is demanding “a greater deal of originality” than ever before.


“The inexorable rise of the streamers has raised the bar for everyone. Premium content is the name of the game and regardless of budget, the shows we take to market have to ooze quality. This rapid SVOD growth also means there are more opportunities to sell than ever, not just globally, but regionally as well.”


Durie believes Canadian crime series Coroner, now in its third season, is a perfect example of how to take advantage of this growth: demonstrating that shows that can work across different platforms will be most in demand. Produced by Canadian prodcos Muse Entertainment, Back Alley Films, and Cineflix Studios, the series follows a widow who investigates suspicious deaths.



“If you look at where Coroner has been sold over the last 18 months, it’s a real mix of free TV, pay TV, and SVOD platforms. They’ve all bought into the show and have seen the audience it delivers, while taking advantage of its returnability,” says Durie.


Cineflix Rights sees having a UK crime series on its slate as a necessity. Durie feels the company could have a long-running international hit on its hands in new title Whitstable Pearl (6×45’), acquired from UK prodco Buccaneer Media.


In the drama, Kerry Godliman (After Life) plays a crime-solving restaurant owner in a Kentish seaside town. Iconic Norwegian filmmaker Oystein Karlsen is executive producing.



Durie feels the series ticks a lot of boxes for Cineflix Rights. “When we looked at the slate, one of the top priorities was to have a long-running UK procedural,” he says. “It’s an essential component that transcends nationalities and exists in its own sub-category. We see Whitstable Pearl as a long-running series with a quintessentially cozy crime dynamic, but also something that offers variety in terms of comedy and quirkiness.”


Another offering on Cineflix Rights’ slate is Quebecois dark comedy Happily Married (10×45’), which comes from Montreal prodco Casablanca.


Durie says the show is designed to provide variety as audiences want increasingly different things. “We always look for different sources of content to bolster what we’ve already got. We have great shows from the UK and Australia, but this needs to be supplemented by more international content,” he says.


Whitstable Pearl
Whitstable Pearl

The same is true in the unscripted sector, with buyers’ demands reflecting their audiences’ appetites for a wide range of factual content. According to Life, a wide net is the best option. “We need enough variety in our shop window to not only get as many buyers as possible to stop and look, but to also get them inside the door to dig deeper into our catalogue. We want to make sure we have a good selection of unscripted content that can offer more or less something for everyone,” he says.


Another important feature of an unscripted show is its versatility. Life gives the example of The Story of Late Night, produced for US network CNN by Canada’s Cream Productions.


“It’s a big blue-chip series about how late-night TV has reflected American culture, and the fact that it was made for CNN means the bar is very high. We have a high-end show that can work across premium TV channels, streaming platforms, and linear broadcasters. Buyers want to have as many opportunities as they can, and everyone wants quality,” he says.


The Story of Late Night
The Story of Late Night

For Life, quality isn’t always linked solely to budgets. It is the potential for audience engagement around the world that he sees as vital for Cineflix Rights’ factual programming slate. One show that he feels offers this essential authenticity and relatability is My Big Family Farm (38×60’), an ob doc series from London prodco Renegade Pictures and WPP-owned Motion Content Group that follows the annual ups and downs of a farming couple and their nine children. Life says international buyers have sat up and taken notice because these essential human-interest elements are baked into the show.


“We saw something unique about the show that was universal: a family working together to achieve a goal is relatable anywhere,” he says. “A very British show can become successful internationally, and a lot of that is to do with its returnability. We want shows that can come back year after year as they offer quality and certainty for buyers. If they see something unique that they can put across 10 weeks, buyers are likely to go for it.”


Another UK-focused show Cineflix Rights plans to sell internationally is The Day Will & Kate Got Married, part of a commemorative franchise from Scottish prodco Finestripe Productions.


My Big Family Farm
My Big Family Farm

Life says there is always interest in royal programming, particularly from US audiences. “It just needs to be a global event that people are interested in, but we’re always looking outside the UK. Even in the initial stage when we’re talking about which UK channel it would work on, we’re looking ahead to its international potential,” he says.


With the events of the past year, it’s no surprise there is a medical science series on Cineflix Rights’ slate. However, Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer (4×60’), which tells the story of how humanity has overcome some of history’s deadliest diseases, was actually developed before Covid-19 and takes a deep dive well beyond the present-day crisis.


As such, Life feels that the timing of the series premiering in May is somewhat fortunate in terms of audience interest. He believes the series, produced by London’s Nutopia and backed by UK and US pubcasters the BBC and PBS, has the pedigree and relevance to have huge appeal around the world.


Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer
Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer

Another factual series mentioned is World’s Most Scenic Railway Journeys, a returning series produced by UK prodco BriteSpark Films for the UK’s Channel 5.


According to Life, the series is an excellent example of an ongoing trend in unscripted content. “People still want escapism, but now we’re seeing a move towards immersive factual series that grip you,” he says. “Audiences are nowadays also looking for takeaway value and Railway Journeys does that very well.”


“The show is visually amazing, but it’s not wallpaper, it has really good specialist factual content in the form of history, science, and culture. Audiences still want easily digestible formats, but they want to learn something in the process.”


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

Another immersive factual series on Cineflix Rights’ slate is Homicide: Hours To Kill (78×60’), which follows experts who reconstruct the 24 hours leading up to a murder. The series is made by Cineflix Media’s North America-based production arm, which helps the workflow of both scripted and unscripted projects.


Life says the workflow between the two company divisions is helping it stay on top as an independent distributor. “We don’t have the scale of vertical integration like the big studios, but it does mean we can work more closely and effectively with our own group to create and finance shows with international appeal. This helps complement each other’s business well,” he says.


“Our relationship with international prodcos also opens up the possibility of coproductions in the future. Not only that, but the job of a distributor in general is changing to be more involved upfront and in the early stages of production.”


Homicide: Hours To Kill
Homicide: Hours To Kill

Cineflix Rights’ factual slate continues to be varied with its final offering: I Got Lucky (14×30’) from Canada’s Cream Productions. The show uses dashcam and CCTV footage to tell stories of people who have narrowly avoided death in extreme situations.


While a more traditional format, Life says the show falls under Cineflix Rights’ need for variety. “Any show we pick up has to be of a certain quality, so it will ideally work on all types of platforms,” he explains. “The opportunity is there in the market and content should be measuring itself against that.”


“Our slate demonstrates that – there’s a thematic variety but they can also work for different platforms, different slots and different territories. Once you have that you’ve got something to build on.”

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.”

  • 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.”

  • 16-11-2020

    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.

  • 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.