International Drama Dominates Mild MIPCOM Market

Ted Sarandos
Getty Images

HBO Max snatched up several international shows at this year's online event, and Sony nabbed U.S. remake rights to Italian hit 'Doc.'

The Mipcom international television market — typically the buzziest and most industry-defying event of the year — wrapped without much fuss on Friday.

The virtual-only MIPCOM Online+ had plenty to recommend it — including A-list virtual Q&As with the likes of Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos and multi-hyphenate Tyler Perry (this year's MIPCOM Trendsetter award winner)— and there was a steady flow of announcements and deals.

But even the best online market — and organizers Reed Midem set a new high bar with their MIPCOM Online+ platform — can't capture the excitement of an in-person event. It is clear that the global television business wants to get back to normal — and back to a physical market in Cannes — as soon as possible. Whether that will happen by MIP-TV next Spring or by MIPCOM 2021 remains to be seen.

When it came to the hype and the buzz, what excitement there was at MIPCOM 2020 was focused on international shows. This was hardly surprising, as production delays — a result of the pandemic — meant there were few new U.S. series available this year. But it also reflected a broader trend, as non-American, and non-English-language series gain ground, particularly among global streamers.

HBO Max, the new kid on the streaming block, was MIPCOM's big buyer, snatching up multiple shows for its U.S. service, including Adult Material, a Channel 4 series starring Hayley Squires as a pornstar mother; Sky's phone-hacking drama I Hate Suzie from Succession writer Lucy Prebble; Endemol Shine Israel's Yom Kippur War limited series Valley Of Tears; and Studiocanal's French/Israeli drama Possessions, about a bride accused of murdering her husband. HBO Max also nabbed the Banijay/Channel 4 reality show The Bridge for the U.S.

It was a clear sign that the WarnerMedia division is looking to compete directly with Netflix on the international drama front. Expect more of the same as HBO Max rolls out its global footprint, beginning with Latin America next year.

Another stand-out MIPCOM deal this week was Sony Pictures Television picking up U.S. remake rights to Italian drama Doc – Nelle Tue Mani. The agreement also gives Sony international sales rights for the Italian original, produced by Lux Vide. Described as House meets The Good Doctor, Doc stars Eat Pray Love actor Luca Argentero as a brilliant physician who suffers an injury that erases 12 years of his memory. Launched on public channel Rai 1 this year, Doc was the most-watched series on Italian TV in more than a decade. The show is the second collaboration between Sony and Lux Vide following the limited series Leonardo, starring Aidan Turner as the Renaissance artist.

Scandinavian TV powerhouse Nordic Entertainment Group inked a deal with Shades Of Blue creator Adi Hasak for The Box, a supernatural anthology series which will star British actress Anna Friel (Marcella). Production on the show is set to start next February in Sweden, where the local industry has managed to implement COVID-19 protocols with little disruption than almost anywhere else. Nordic streamer NENT will premiere The Box on its Viaplay service in the Nordic and Baltic regions.

Another Viaplay show, Warner Bros.-produced Swedish drama Partisan, starring Chernobyl and Westworld actor Fares Fares, was the stand-out show at the Canneseries, the TV festival than runs alongside Mipcom, winning the top prize of Best Series. Russian actress Polina Maksimova won Best Performance for her leading role in cancer patient comedy-drama 257 Reasons to Live, while French/Belgium thriller Moloch took Best Screenplay for writers Arnaud Malherbe and Marion Festraëts.

Britain's Channel Four dominated the fourth annual MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards, taking best-scripted representation of LGBTQ+ characters for its series Feel Good!, best-scripted representation of disability for drama The Accident, and best non-scripted representation of race and ethnicity for The School That Tried to End Racism. The trophy for best-scripted representation of race and ethnicity went to Total Control from Australia's ABC network.

Given the growing demand for high-end content of all kinds, and from all around the world, expect every one of these shows to make it soon to a screen near you.

Anyone who missed MIPCOM highlights this year can still check out the MIPCOM Online+ platform, which will be available for catch-up until November 17.