Is MIPTV Still Worth the Trek to Cannes?

8:00 AM 4/7/2019

by Scott Roxborough

With the industry focusing on local productions, many wonder if it's worth the costly trip. Plus, Hollywood Reporter picks the 15 best new dramas on the market, from the 'Twilight Zone' reboot to Emma Thompson's return to TV.

The Luminaries-The Twilight Zone-Folklore-Publicity Stills-Split-H 2019
Kirsty Griffin/BBC; Robert Falconer/CBS; Courtesy of HBO

MIPTV, the annual international television market that is about to roll out its 55th edition in Cannes, is at a crossroads. Or maybe even a dead end.

Originally set up as a market for U.S. networks and independent producers to pitch their shows to international buyers, MIP is struggling to find a new raison d'etre amid seismic disruptions in the global TV industry. "MIPTV is primarily an acquisitions market, and it's having trouble negotiating the shift in the TV industry toward production," notes one European executive who will not be heading to the Croisette this year.

Major international networks that used to stock their schedules with imported shows — mainly from the U.S. — have shifted budgets to in-house production, focusing on creating primetime events that will make them stand out. "U.S. series play no role anymore on the primetime schedules of the big networks in Europe," says Jan Mojto of German production/distribution group Beta Film. "Channels need shows that will brand them in the marketplace, and that's impossible to do with American series."

Many — perhaps most — of those production deals are done outside MIPTV, giving international executives less incentive to make the costly trip to Cannes.

The hope of discovering the next Game of Thrones or Walking Dead will ensure that some buyers keep coming, but for how much longer? For those who make the trip to MIP this year, THR picks the best new dramas on the market, from Asian horror to a reboot of The Twilight Zone to Oscar winner Emma Thompson's triumphant return to television.

  • 'Folklore'

    This scary anthology from Singaporean art house darling Eric Khoo, which premiered stateside on HBO in October, puts a fresh spin on supernatural stories.

  • 'The Luminaries'

    Fremantle is looking to repeat the success of its period mini Picnic at Hanging Rock with this story of love and murder set in 1860s New Zealand. Eleanor Catton adapted her Man Booker Prize-winning novel for BBC Two and New Zealand's TVNZ1.

  • 'Mytho'

    French actress Marina Hands (Black Spot) stars as a desperate housewife caught in a web of lies in this French dramedy from Fabrice Gobert.

  • 'NOS4A2'

    In this supernatural horror for AMC (debuting April 30 in the U.S.), Ashleigh Cummings' character has the power to travel through hidden portals, with Zachary Quinto as a similarly abled killer who preys on the souls of children.

  • 'The Twilight Zone'

    Premiering stateside April 1 on CBS All Access, this reboot is exec produced by Get Out helmer Jordan Peele, who narrates the new tales of "the fifth dimension."

  • 'Years and Years'

    Emma Thompson makes her return to TV in this drama (to air in the U.S. on HBO) about a family shaken by the recent political and social transformation in Britain.

  • 'Upright'

    Multi-talent Tim Minchin plays the ironically named Lucky Flynn in this down-under heart-warmer about a gifted pianist and broken man who ends up on a 2,500-mile road trip across Australia with a similarly damaged young woman (newcomer Milly Alcock) as they try and deliver his upright piano from one side of the country to the other.

  • 'The Twelve'

    Belgium is quickly replacing Scandinavia as the go-to territory for cutting-edge crime dramas as evidenced by this new entry from Federation Entertainment — about 12 ordinary people called to be jury members in a murder trial.

  • 'Now Apocalypse'

    Cult queer filmmaker Gregg Araki has been embracing gender, and genre, fluidity in his storytelling for decades. Now mainstream TV is catching up, and Araki's first series (which premiered on Starz March 10) — about a hookup-chasing drifter (Avan Jogia) and an assortment of sexually adventurous misfits pursuing sex, love and fame in L.A. — hits the zeitgeist on the nose.

  • 'Identification'

    In this gripping new Russia drama, a young orphaned woman named Lera is welcomed into a community of illegal immigrants and agrees to marry the family's youngest son. But on their wedding night, Lera confesses to her betrothed that she is not the woman he thought she was.

  • '8 Days'

    Armageddon comes home in this German-language drama in which a family in Berlin have 8 days to escape the blast radius of a giant meteorite set to crash into central Europe.

  • 'Just for Today'

    A half-way house for prisoners and the idealist social worker who struggles to keep the group home together is the focus of this buzzy new drama out of Israel.

  • 'Eden'

    The fate of migrants to Europe, and that of the Europeans whose lives are touched by them, is the focus of this French drama from acclaimed auteur Dominik Moll (Lemmings, With a Friend Like Harry).

  • 'The Guest'

    Korean star Kim Dong-wook plays a demon-hunting shaman who teams up with a female detective (Jeong Eun-chae) and an exorcist priest (Kim Jae-wook) to destroy the evil spirit that killed his family two decades ago.

  • 'Wild Bill'

    Rob Lowe stars as an ex-U.S. police chief who takes up a new job at the rural Lincolnshire police force in this culture-clash comedy take on the crime procedural from 42, Shiver and Anonymous Content for ITV.

  • Reality Reboots: What's Behind the Craze?

    The makers of reality TV have seen the future. And it looks an awful lot like the past. Across the world, non­scripted TV formats long thought dead are being dug up, dusted off and rebooted for a new generation.

    In January, USA went back to Temptation Island, reviving the controversial 2000s-era dating series in which unmarried couples test the strength of their relationship by living with singles in seclusion. After six weeks of solid ratings, USA picked up the show for a second season.

    Viacom has ordered a new version of Wife Swap — which ran on ABC from 2004 to 2010 — for its Paramount Network, with the new incarnation set to premiere April 4. Fox is rebooting its early-2000s unscripted competition series Paradise Hotel, with SallyAnn Salsano's 495 Productions (of Jersey Shore, itself recently rebooted for MTV) on board to produce.

    Even MTV's 1990s-era The Real World — which ran for 32 seasons from 1992 to 2016 — has been reimagined for the digital generation, with versions for the U.S., Thailand and Mexico launching on Facebook Watch in the spring.

    "People are still interested in those proven formats," says Tim Mutimer, head of Banijay Rights, which handles such reality evergreens as Wife Swap and Survivor. "Having that kind of history gives broadcasters the comfort that an established brand can be tweaked slightly to make it relevant for today's audiences."

    The reality reboot fad is a global one. Banijay is relaunching Survivor in Germany this year after a 12-year break. Fremantle and Simon Cowell's Syco Entertainment are bringing back Got Talent in Australia and China. Britain's ITV celebrated the biggest nonscripted success in years with the relaunch of Love Island and has sold the format in a dozen territories, including to CBS for the U.S.

    Bucking the reboot trend at MIPTV is 2025, a futuristic reality show from Israel's Keshet International. The format sees 12 contestants living in a city manned by six robots. And unlike most reality shows, it feels new.

    This story first appeared in the March 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.