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C21 DIGITAL SCREENINGS

Cineflix Rights

Programming Profile

Independence drives Cineflix Rights’ noisy new slate

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.”

 

Bonney
Chris Bonney, Cineflix Rights

Rebecca (8×60’) certainly ticks the memorable box. Produced by Elephant for France’s TF1, it is based on Buccaneer Media’s global hit Marcella for ITV and Netflix. A fast-paced crime thriller, Rebecca follows a tormented yet brilliant Parisian detective who is battling depression and a series of blackouts while piecing together a brutal murder investigation.

 

“The adaptation has a bigger focus on Rebecca’s role as a mother struggling with her kids, her job and demons. But the storyline remains true to the original concept. It’s being hotly anticipated in France, and was recognised with an official selection at Series Mania 2021. A lot of broadcasters that couldn’t get hold of Marcella because of the Netflix deal have shown interest,” he says.

 

Rebecca
Rebecca

Psychological, procedural thriller Crime (6×60’), also from Buccaneer Media, takes the next spot on Cineflix’s slate as a first look for this fall. Adapted by Irvine Welsh from his best-selling novel, the BritBox series envelops the viewer in a dangerous world and the troubled mind of DI Ray Lennox, a man engaged in his own disturbing battle, all while undertaking serious criminal investigations.

 

“Crime has legions of fans all over the world, so there’s a ready-made audience. Dougray Scott, who’s known for many other high-profile projects, is leading a strong cast. The storyline is very much in vogue as there’s a continuing demand for police-based shows with complex characters investigating cases but also facing their own fallibilities,” says Bonney.

 

Crime
Crime

Bonney sees benefits to using established IP, something that Cineflix would like to continue to explore. “The marketplace has shown a strong appetite for existing IP. If the story has succeeded in literary form, it gives everyone comfort the concept has earned its pedigree and the chance to be adapted to screen,” he says.

 
Manayek (20×45’), from Yoav Gross Productions for Israel’s Kan 11, is the next scripted title on the playlist. On the brink of retirement, a veteran internal affairs investigator stumbles upon a police corruption case where the prime suspect is his best friend, a decorated police officer. For Bonney, the drama, now in its second season, could run for multiple seasons. “It’s basically an Israeli Line of Duty. Heavily layered with hard-hitting plots and an authenticity that’s rare, and which comes from the writer’s involvement in the police field.”

 

Manayek
Manayek

Like Rebecca, Manayek taps into the continued appetite for non-English-language content globally. “We’ve found a ready and willing audience for foreign-language drama, evidenced with Apple TV+’s Tehran, which is one of the first foreign-language shows the streamer has picked up. It’s been driven by the PSBs – in particular, the BBC picking up a lot of Nordic noir. Then the SVoD services followed suit. The quality is incredibly high from whichever source we’ve picked, whether it’s from Canada, France, Israel or Australia. We are definitely looking to do more,” says Bonney, who adds that several new international deals are due to be announced shortly.

 

Quebec-based Productions Casablanca’s Happily Married (20×45), for Radio-Canada, is the final scripted title on the list. After dropping their children off at camp in July 1974, two couples in crisis take a series of drastic decisions, ultimately becoming the most infamous quartet of criminals in Quebec history.

 

Happily Married
Happily Married

“It’s a fantastic darkly humorous crime caper, where the character development is stupendous, and the performances of the actors is off the charts; it’s really binge-worthy. We’re finding it’s working strongly on linear, and linear on-demand. But you can also see it appealing in the SVoD world, as Salto in France has proven,” says Bonney.

 

For Bonney, Cineflix is effective at following its creative nose when it comes to finding a suitable home for a series. “With the depth and expanse of the marketplace added to significantly by the new platforms, there’s a buyer for every product. The linear market has been influenced by the success of the new streamers. They’re open to different lengths, formats, serialised, episodic etc, so it’s an open market, driven very much by demand and by the quality of the concept.”

 

The Greatest of All Time with Photographer Walter Iooss
The Greatest of All Time with Photographer Walter Iooss

Bonney believes Cineflix’s factual reputation has helped boost its position in scripted. “We’ve developed a line of business using the expertise we’ve generated through unscripted. We’re known for delivering factual returning series that are reliable performers and very popular with broadcasters because they know the volume is there and they are promotable. We’re also trying to get a few fresh, noisy, unscripted projects in the mix, like The Greatest of All Time with Photographer Walter Iooss (3×60’).”

 

Produced by Kaufman Films for ESPN, the three-part series celebrates the world’s top athletes through the extraordinary work of Iooss, America’s most iconic sports photographer. “It’s got that much sought-after combination of broad appeal with a sports theme. It’s great co-viewing and perfect for primetime slots across the schedules.”

 

Voices from the Dead
Voices from the Dead

Richard Hammond’s Workshop (6×60’), from Chimp Productions for Discovery+, is another big new title. The former Top Gear presenter embarks upon an exciting venture setting up a classic car restoration workshop. The entertaining docusoap follows Hammond as he strives, somewhat out of his comfort zone, to launch his new business in the classic car world.

 

“It’s a talent-led project. We were intrigued by Richard’s classic car restoration ambition. The series capitalises on his appeal within the Top Gear world and latterly his Amazon reincarnation. An added experience for viewers is it’s set in the grounds of his family house, so you get more insight into Richard’s world, and there’s loads of car stuff for real classic car fans.”

 

Voices from the Dead (3×60’), for the UK’s Channel 5, is next. “It comes from highly reputed producer SandStone Global. We really enjoy bringing these types of show to market because they help us to build relationships with a lot of free-to-air networks,” says Bonney. “Using new technology, Professor Bettany Hughes puts her investigative skills to the test, revealing intimate portraits of people and how they lived, with a fascinating and visually stunning insight into different worlds in each episode, from Tutankhamun to Pompeii.”

 

Secret Nazi Expeditions
Secret Nazi Expeditions

Another historical series, Secret Nazi Expeditions (6×60’), produced by Go Button Media, exposes Hitler’s twisted hunt for ancient knowledge and artifacts, exposing the covert missions behind the Nazi propaganda machine. “Second World War history is an evergreen topic and this series is akin to a real Indiana Jones from Raiders of The Lost Ark, exploring the hunt for relics that the Nazis thought would give them an edge in their quest for world domination,” says Bonney.

 

Like a Shot Entertainment’s Smoke & Steel: Secrets of the Modern World (6×60’) for UKTV and Science Channel explores the extraordinary engineering innovations of the industrial revolution and shows how the same techniques and inventions are still helping to build the modern world. “This is food and drink for a lot of broadcasters that are looking for fact-based science delivered in an entertaining format,” explains the Cineflix Rights chief.

 

Smoke & Steel: Secrets of the Modern World
Smoke & Steel: Secrets of the Modern World

Moving Houses (10×60’), by Imagination Television, follows daring Kiwis as they take on the ultimate recycling project: moving must-have homes to picture-perfect New Zealand settings. “The series is a lovely combination of science, engineering and design, with the jeopardy of these incredible houses being cut up into pieces and trucked across the country.”

 

Expert Witness (15×30’) celebrates the unsung courtroom heroes who helped solve some of the most complex crimes, revealing how forensic specialists used science and determination to uncover critical hidden clues in everything from fibres to fly larvae and digital fingerprints. “We’re thrilled to be in business with Rare TV on a BBC1 property that we think might turn into a volume offering, starting as 15 half-hours,” says Bonney.

 

Moving Houses
Moving Houses

Ainsley’s Good Mood Food (10×60’), produced by Rock Oyster Media for ITV, sees chef Ainsley Harriott celebrate delicious mood-boosting food. “Ainsley is internationally renowned, and we have a number of shows with him as the lead talent. This is a really nice distinctive offering about finding food that can make you feel good, which particularly chimes in the current difficult times,” says Bonney.

 

Smart Home Nation (10×30’), from Emmy-winning producer Efran Films for A+E Networks, takes the last playlist spot. The series guides viewers on an exclusive tour of two of the most jaw-dropping, technologically advanced homes in the world.

 

Expert Witness
Expert Witness

For Bonney, the key genres Cineflix Rights has always been focused on remain strong: “History, documentary, science and tech, true crime, food and lifestyle continue to do well for us. Those mainstays of our genre strengths will continue to grow as we all start to appreciate and enjoy life again.”

 

Bonney points to the pandemic as impacting another genre. “We are now seeing a rise in the appeal of dating formats, as people emerge from hiding away. We’ve been looking at conceiving and developing formats in this area,” he says.

 

Taking stock of the current landscape, Bonney sees this as an exciting time to be in business. “There are more buying and screening points than ever before, leading to increased demand for quality content across the whole marketplace.

 

Ainsley's Good Mood Food
Ainsley’s Good Mood Food

“In some cases, this means a slight lack of content, because so many of the studios are developing a vertical strategy and launching their own platforms, but it’s also an opportunity for an independent distributor which can offer different and flexible options to producers looking to maximise their IP. It’s a complex but really exciting time and I’m looking forward to handing over that challenge to Tim Mutimer,” who is taking over as CEO from Bonney.

 

Bonney’s legacy is leaving Cineflix Rights in a strong market position. “Empowering a fantastic team to continue to thrive in such a fast-changing world is a real highlight. We have emerged and grown successfully over the last 10 years, particularly with the successful introduction of the scripted side to the business, which is becoming increasingly significant. We are well positioned for further innovation and growth, whether it’s with new creative partners, developing organically or adding new genres,” he says.



More programming profiles

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    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.

     

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    “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.
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    “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.”
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    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.
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