MIPCOM 2014: Scandi Drama On Top Of World Distributors Agendas

With Nordic noir driving the golden age of drama, the 30th MIPCOM 2014 that closed yesterday was one of the most active markets ever for Scandi content providers that were courted by international distributors stepping up their activities in Europe and by US buyers in particular looking for attractive scripted formats.

With a flux of original drama arriving on the market from all Nordic countries, responding to the increased global demand especially for high quality long-running serials, Nordic stars and TV dramas were heavily promoted by sales companies in Cannes, reflecting their confidence for the original shows or scripted formats’ sales potential. Titles particularly highly visible were the Swedish upcoming crime Jordskott spread across a large banner at ITV Studios’ stand, or the Norwegian drama Acquitted (FremantleMedia International) political drama Occupied (Zodiak Rights), crime thrillerEyewitness (DRG), European crime The Team (ZDFE), Finnish eco-thrillerTellus (ZDFE/YLE Sales) and Icelandic set UK thriller Fortitude starring Sofie Gråbøl, all generously advertised in the main TV trade magazines with a mix of front covers and inside full pages.

One focal point of Scandi drama fever at MIPCOM was the press conference of the US/Scandi crime show 100 Code. The title is represented by Red Arrow International which has been increasing its co-production and co-financing activities on Scandi scripted content since the successful international launch of Lilyhammer in 2011. At MIPCOM, the company was representing those titles as well as the Swedish crimeJohan Falk (Strix Drama) and Norwegian comedy series Samurai Security (Rubicon).

Irina Ignatiew, Managing Director Global Scripted Distribution at Red Arrow International told nordiskfilmogtvfond.com: “I’ve been absolutely delighted at how well our Scandi properties, in particular Lilyhammer, 100 Code and Johan Falk were all received at this MIPCOM. The feedback has been terrific and I am beyond excitement about the deals we currently have under wraps. The stars of 100 Code Michael Nyqvist, Dominic Monaghan and US show-runner Bobby Moresco joined us to launch the brand new crime series – Sky Deutschland’s first international coproduction, which was also just sold to HBO Nordic, Iceland’s 365 Media for pay TV and MTG for free TV in Denmark. Selling Steven Van Zandt’s Lilyhammer to over 150 countries definitely kick started our expansion into the Scandi crime genre. A Netflix original, Lilyhammercontinues to thrive in all markets season after season and established us as a strong provider for high-quality Scandinavian series across the globe.”

Fred Burcksen, Executive VP and COO at ZDF Enterprises that was selling among others the upcoming serialised The Team, Tellus and Swedish political thriller Blue Eyessaid “all shows have been received well and with great curiosity”. “The great quality of these dramas helps to broaden the acceptance of subtitled programmes to the English-speaking audience. There’s also a strong demand for remake rights especially from the north-American market, but for the original versions as well.”

Confirming the trend of strong US appetite for Scandinavian scripted formats, started a couple of years ago with The Killing, DRG announced in Cannes the licensing of the Finnish drama format Black Widows (Mustat Lesket) produced by Moskito, to CBS Studios. Former HBO Entertainment Sue Naegle is developing the North American adaption with CBS. (see interview with DRG Noel Hedges SVP Head of Acquisitions).

Meanwhile to consolidate existing partnerships and open up discussions with new US partners, Helene Aurø, Deputy MD at DR Sales told nordiskfilmogtvfond.com that for the first time, a DR delegation will attend the American Film Market in Los Angeles (November 5 to 12). “We have booked meetings to discuss our finished programmes and scripted formats and will pick up the talks notably with Universal Cable Productions on the remake of The Legacy”, said Aurø.

Commenting on the overall business at MIPCOM, DR’s sales exec said the market was ‘excellent and very effective’. Although catering for a different audience than crime, the new drama Broke/Bankerot directed by Henri Ruben Genz from a script by Kim Fupz Aakeson was praised by foreign buyers for its ‘humour and strong emotion’. The show premiered yesterday on DR1. Benelux is negotiating rights on Broke as well as on the upcoming crime series Norskov produced by SF Film for TV2. “Nordic noir is still extremely hot and today people come on board at a very early stage,” continues Aurø. The series has also been sold to Australia for DVD and further sales with bigger territories are expected to close before Christmas.


via the Nordisk Film and TV Fund

Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.