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C21 DIGITAL SCREENINGS

Cineflix Rights

Programming Profile

Cineflix Rights celebrates its 20th anniversary with fresh slate for Mipcom

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.

 

Set in Sydney and based on true events, the show stars Tim Roth (The Hateful Eight, Lie to Me, Sundown) and Lincoln Younes (Grand Hotel, Tangle, Barons).

 

Durie
James Durie, Cineflix Rights

There’s also feature film Sugar, produced by Connect 3 Media and Sepia Films for Prime Video (Canada, Australia, New Zealand), about two young Canadian influencers who unwittingly become entangled in a deadly drug smuggling operation while traveling on a cruise ship bound for Australia.

 

Both projects were greenlit locally by global streamers – a commissioning structure that has become increasingly prevalent as the business models employed by SVoD services evolve.

 

“Streamers are now commissioning a lot more content, and not always for worldwide,” says James Durie, head of scripted at Cineflix Rights, which is part of Montreal-headquartered Cineflix Media. “As they try to localise their content, there are opportunities for distributors to work with them to get shows greenlit.”

 

Life
Richard Life, Cineflix Rights

It is also a trend that is becoming apparent on the factual side, says Richard Life, head of acquisitions at Cineflix Rights. “They recognise that it’s a mixed economy for them and, frankly, that their budgets go further if they can spread out that risk and not have a landgrab on rights,” he says.

 

“Right now, there’s an opportunity for us as distributors to partner with some of these big companies that, perhaps in the past, have been a little less flexible on rights.”

 

Also on the scripted slate is the supernatural dramedy Reginald the Vampire (10×60’), produced by Great Pacific Media, Modern Story, December Films and Cineflix Studios for Syfy in the US.

 

Last King of The Cross
Last King of The Cross

The series sends up traditional vampire tropes and follows an unlikely hero (played by Spider-Man’s Jacob Batalon) who crashes headlong into a world populated by beautiful, fit and vain vampires.

 

While Sugar and Reginald the Vampire are very different projects, both have a young-adult (YA) skew to them, says Durie. “We heard the call from our buyers for more YA content. I’ve sat in hundreds of meetings in which the question at the end is, ‘what are you looking for?’ and YA is at the forefront of that,” he says.

 

Cineflix Rights’ slate includes several dramas that are procedural in nature, including season two of cozy crime series Whitstable Pearl (12×60’, Buccaneer Media) for AMC Networks’ Acorn TV in the UK.

 

Reginald the Vampire
Reginald the Vampire

Of late, there has been a lot of industry chatter about the ‘return’ of the procedural, especially in light of the rise of ad-supported streaming. For Durie, however, procedurals have always been among the best-selling properties in distributors’ catalogues.

 

“The death of the procedural was overhyped and premature – I don’t think the genre ever went away. It was always super strong in Europe, with the US networks and across pay TV in the UK,” he says.

 

“What maybe happened is that CSI came down from its lofty heights and so everyone thought the procedural was dead. But they’re still a huge element of every single channel and platform’s strategy, and viewers love them and still buy into the characters and worlds. We will have multiple procedurals on our slate for the foreseeable future.”

 

Holiday Homes in the Sun
Holiday Homes in the Sun

Also on the scripted slate are seasons one and two (20×60’) of Israeli police corruption drama Manayek. Produced by Yoav Gross Productions for Kan 11, the show tells the story of an investigator who stumbles upon a police corruption case where the prime suspect is his best friend.

 

Cineflix Rights is also selling the first two seasons of Irvine Welsh’s Crime (12×60’), produced by Buccaneer and Off Grid Film & TV for ITVX/BritBox in the UK. The series, which is adapted from the Scottish author’s best-selling novel of the same name, follows detective inspector Ray Lennox (played by Dougray Scott, who has been nominated for this year’s International Emmy Best Performance Award for his role) as he navigates his own struggles while taking on criminal investigations.

 

On the unscripted side, Life describes the distributor’s offering this year as a “a combination of really strong volume and returning brands mixed with brand new series.”

 

The Yorkshire Auction House
The Yorkshire Auction House

Holiday Homes in the Sun (80×60’, Raise the Roof Productions and Motion Content Group for Channel 5, UK) — which sees hosts Amanda Lamb, J.B. Gill and DJ Sam Pinkham competing to find their favourite European holiday rental — is an example of the opportunity Cineflix Rights sees in acquiring worldwide rights for high-volume factual series.

 

The distributor is also selling two seasons of The Yorkshire Auction House (40×60’, STV Productions for Discovery+, UK), which see Angus Ashworth travel the UK clearing homes of their clutter and then selling the forgotten treasures he finds along the way.

 

Life says selling factual shows with fast-growing episode counts is a “huge opportunity for us in the market, where we see buyers looking for volume to fill whole quarters of a schedule. And not only that, with the rapid rise of FAST and AVoD, volume is the name of the game there too.”

 

Cult Justice
Cult Justice

It should be noted that Cineflix Rights is expanding its business in the FAST space, recently hiring Mike Gould in the newly created position of senior VP of digital. Part of Gould’s remit is to shape and lead Cineflix Rights’ digital strategy and ultimately launch direct-to-consumer FAST channels later this year.

 

Shorter-order factual is also a key part of the sales strategy, with other titles including Cult Justice (8×60’, Law&Crime Productions for True Crime Network in the US), about false prophets who thought they were above the law; ocean adventure series Ghost Ships (4×60’, Arcadia Entertainment for Canada’s Bell Media); and Close Encounters Down Under (6×60’, Perpetual Entertainment), which reveals untold stories of UFO sightings, abductions and other paranormal events. The latter is produced for 7Mate (Australia), TVNZ (New Zealand) and A+E Networks (UK, Ireland, Poland and Romania).

 

Increasingly, Cineflix Rights is boarding scripted projects early in the development process. That is the case for several titles on this year’s Mipcom slate, such as Last King of The Cross. Durie says Cineflix worked with the producer to complete the financing and secure presales in order to get the show greenlit.

 

Ghost Ships
Ghost Ships

Another example is a TV adaptation of author Shankari Chandran’s Song of the Sun God, with Charithra Chandran as the lead, which Cineflix Rights boarded as a creative and financing partner after striking a deal with Glasgow-based producer Synchronicity Films and Sydney’s Dragonet Films.

 

Pre-selling scripted shows is an area of focus for Cineflix Rights, says Durie, adding that the company is working closely with London-based Buccaneer, an affiliated JV within the Cineflix Media portfolio, to pre-sell shows at a “much earlier stage.” This strategy has been used with The Doll Factory, which has been commissioned by Paramount+ in the UK.

 

That was also the case for Patrick Aryee’s Wild World (4×60’, Cineflix Productions and Curve Media for Sky Nature), which sees the British biologist and explorer travel the world to examine how nature’s delicate balance can be both disrupted and restored. The blue-chip wildlife series was pre-sold to Sky Nature in the UK, with Cineflix Rights launching sales to other international buyers at Mipcom.

 

Close Encounters Down Under
Close Encounters Down Under

Life says being able to facilitate presales is one of the company’s great strengths and gives it a leg up in the marketplace. “Some distributors don’t have the ability to pre-sell,” he says.

 

“It’s a very different process than selling a finished show. You need to think like a producer, and it’s not easy – persuading someone to commit to something before it’s made requires an enormous amount of confidence, and it’s a certain skillset that not every distributor has. We’ve proven in scripted and unscripted that we have that skillset in-house.”

 

This year marks the 20-year anniversary of Cineflix Rights, and its execs are keen to impress upon the industry that the elements that have made the company a fixture within the international distribution sector still stand – and that the best is yet to come.

 

Patrick Aryee's Wild World
Patrick Aryee’s Wild World

“Amidst seemingly endless industry consolidation, we are proud to remain a fiercely independent production and distribution company,” says Durie. “It’s about ensuring we are of a scale that gives us leverage in the market, but which also allows us to maintain strong relationships with our producer clients who are vital to our success.”

 

“And while the shows, lines of business and market players might have changed down the years, the company’s core DNA is still to build franchises and brands that can work for buyers across the globe,” says Life.

 

“From day one, Cineflix Rights was always about returning brands and series, especially in the unscripted space, and now with the scripted space too, so we’re just carrying on the heritage of the company,” he adds.



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