International Week In Review: Euro Soccer, the Queen’s Jubilee and Madonna Vs. Le Pen
Britain barely had time to recover from the Queen’s four-day Diamond Jubilee party before it, and the rest of Europe, settled in for the month-long soccer marathon that is the Euro 2012 Football Championships. But while the continent’s top teams battle it out on the pitch, Madonna picked a fight with French politico Marine Le Pen, comparing the right wing populist to Hitler. Elsewhere, Sony shares tanked, earthquakes shook the Italian box office and the U.S. government pulled its support for a Pakistani version of Sesame Street.
Here’s The Hollywood Reporter’s look at the international media stories making headlines around the world this week.
EUROS KICK OFF
The Hollywood studios have been cramming their summer tentpoles into European cinemas over the past few weeks to get whatever box office they can ahead of the 2012 European Football Championship, which kicks off in Poland and the Ukraine on June 8. Cinemas are set to empty out over the next four weeks as Euro fans tune in. European soccer governing body UEFA expects a cumulative global audience of nearly 5 billion for all 31 games in the tournament.
That sort of captive audience has drawn in advertisers, who’ve delivered by turns impressive, funny and bizarre commercials hooked to the soccer. THR picked out the best, and worst, of this year’s Euro 2012 spots.
BRITS KNOCK JUBILEE COVERAGE, BUT EVERYONE TUNES IN
The BBC said it has received 3,600 complaints over its extensive coverage of Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee celebrations. But Brits tuned in. The BBC drew its biggest British TV audience of the year to-date – 17 million, a 65.4 percent share - with its star-studded Monday night concert, in which Elton John, Robbie Williams, Stevie Wonder and others sang fort he durable monarch.
Media celebs, including CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and Piers Morgan tweeted their congrats to her Majesty.
MADONNA VS. LE PEN
The queen of pop sent a decisively different message to French politician Marine Le Pen. During a concert in Tel Aviv, Madonna screened a video which showed Le Pen with a hug swastika covering her face. The French right winger and her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, threatened legal action, demanding the pop star pay them $1 million.
COMIC PUT FEAR OF FUNNY INTO BERLUSCONI
In another celeb vs. politico match up, left-leaning Italian comedian, blogger and activist Beppe Grillo got a rise out of the country’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Grillo, who started his own Five-Star political party three years ago, has been polling well in local elections. To combat Grillo’s media success, Berlusconi has suggested fighting fire with fire and has put forward television presenter Gerry Scotti as the new head of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party.
SONY SHARES PLUMMET
Sony put the fear into the markets this week when its shares fell below 1,000 Yen ($12.80), their lowest level since 1980. Sony posted a fourth straight year of losses last month, with a record $5.7 billion in red ink. The company’s stock is down nearly 30 percent for the year.
ITALIAN BOX OFFICE SHOOK
Italian box office take collapsed in May, falling 18 percent after a series of devastating earthquakes shut down the Emila Romanga region around Bologna. But Italy’s stagnant economy was the main reason for the decline.
GREEK CRISIS FORCES THESSALONIKI CUTS
The European debt crisis also hit Greece’s 53-year-old Thessaloniki Film Festival, which this week announced it would have to abandon cash prizes all together for this year’s edition. Greek industry insiders say further changes could be in the works after the country’s June 17 elections.
STUDIOS’ EASTWARD EXPANSION
Gloomy international news didn’t shake the studios’ resolve to move east, however. This week Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Singed a deal, thought to be worth $250 million, to buy out ESPN’s 50 percent stake in the companies’ Asian joint venture ESPN Star Sports.
Viacom inked a deal with Indian broadcasting group TV18 for their own JV, the new broadcasting operation IndiaCast, to distribute channels and content from the two companies in India and abroad.
20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. launched a joint distribution and marketing operation for the booming Brazilian market.
And Fox signed a two-year deal with Berlin-based A Company to set up a new theatrical distribution operation in Russia.
CHINA’S WESTWARD MOVE
That traffic moves both ways. This week, Chinese producer and distributor Bona Film Group began talks with Universal, Sony, Paramount and Fox about potentially co-producing movies for international distribution, the Wall Street Journal reported.
PINEWOOD’S IOM APPROACH
Meanwhile, Pinewood Shepperton looked closer to home for a partner, beginning talks with the government of the Isle of Man that could see the IOM acquire nearly 20 percent of the . U.K. studio facilities group.
FORMULA ONE SLAMS BRAKES ON IPO
But motor sport racing company Formula One (F1) has taken his foot off the gas, pulling out, at least temporarily, from its planned initial public offering in Singapore, an IPO that was expected to bring in up to $3 billion.
CAN YOU TELL ME HOW TO GET TO ISLAMABAD?
And finally, no one will be able tell Pakistani kids how to get to Sesame Street after the U.S. government pulled its financial support for a Pakistani version of the popular children’s television show. According to reports, the U.S. government pulled its funding for a $20 million project to produce at least three seasons of the series amid allegations of financial irregularities by the local puppet theater troupe that was developing the show together with the Sesame Workshop. The U.S. had hoped Elmo, Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus would help improve education in Pakistan and increase tolerance amid the prevalence of radical political views.