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Mediawan’s Elisabeth D’Arvieu Talks Documentaries & Buyers


The boss of Mediawan has praised the “very smart” buying community who in recent years have moved on from a domineering TV rights position.

The industry has changed in the past three or four years due to various “constraints,” Elisabeth d’Arvieu explained at MIPTV, as she also delved into detail about how her Count of Monte Cristo seller has become more “agile.”

“Commissioners have been very helpful,” she said. “Three to four years ago they were taking all rights worldwide and we had no other solution [than to accept], but now because of the constraints they have been very smart and are willing to work on windowing or a geographic split.”

D’Arvieu, whose French major owns the likes of Brad Pitt’s Plan B, cited examples such as Netflix co-producing with Finland’s YLE, which “we wouldn’t have seen maybe three years ago.”

On the drive for co-productions, she said she had seen a crowd of 40 to 50 producers at yesterday’s Canneseries “and the word we heard the most was co-production.”

“Co-producing in between countries is a way to bring premium shows to our local customers but because [buyers] are only buying rights for one territory they can do this with a reasonable cost,” she added, citing Mediawan’s Count of Monte Cristo adaptation for France Télévisions and Rai, which stars Sam Claflin and Jeremy Irons.

“Agility” is the key to facing the current challenges instituted by the tricky economic headwinds and hangover from the U.S. labor strikes, she added, floating the desire to produce “high-quality impactful shows but without rising budgets.”

Mediawan is looking in more depth at how it can be “synergetic” by adapting documentary IP into scripted. “A good crime series in docs can lead to a very good scripted adaptation,” added d’Arvieu. “This is a way to answer customer’s needs and is also a very important source of IP.”

Book market “shoots up crazily”

She said Mediawan, which is also making a high-profile Zorro remake, is delving deeper into the book adaptation world.

According to Banijay content exec Steve Matthews, the book market has “shot up crazily” in response to buyers being “slightly more conservative and looking for more proof of concept than a few years ago,” as he concurred with d’Arvieu on the looser rights position.

He said there is still education to be done in order to help buyers bring budgets down in said climate but they are learning.

“I was at the Zagreb Film Festival and people were saying, ‘HBO Balkans has gone, Netflix isn’t really here,’ but then we realized there is a bit of money [in the region] and an entrepreneurial spirit,” added the former HBO Europe exec. “The shoots of optimism are turning up in interesting spaces like Benelux, Norway and Finland.”

Meanwhile, figures like Cathy Payne, who runs distributor Baniiay Rights, have become “much more powerful again” as brokers of big TV packages, Matthews added.

The pair were speaking at MIPTV in Cannes.



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