How TV Market LA Screenings Is Going Global

By Dams, Tim | Screen International, May 14, 2019 | Go to article overview

How TV Market LA Screenings Is Going Global


Dams, Tim, Screen International


What role does the LA Screenings play in the TV market calendar for international buyers and distributors?

LA Screenings, which runs May 14-18, will serve as the launchpad for dozens of new dramas, among them Sky Atlantic and HBO’s lavish tale of Russian ruler Catherine The Great and Sony Pictures Television’s teenage spy adaptation Alex Rider.

Both are UK-produced high-end dramas: Catherine The Great stars Oscar winner Helen Mirren and is made by Origin Pictures and New Pictures, while the Alex Rider series comes from Eleventh Hour Films and is adapted by Anthony Horowitz, on whose books it is based.

That both internationally produced dramas are launching at the LA Screenings reveals just how much the market has changed in recent years, and its evolving role in the international drama landscape.

The LA Screenings used to be, and in many ways still is, a very defined event in the international TV calendar — one that sees US studios pitch new US shows to international buyers. The US studios screen the pilot episodes of their programmes that have been selected by the US networks to premiere during the autumn schedules. More than 1,500 buyers from around the world attend, all keen to snap up the show that may become the next Friends or NCIS.

With a focus on new shows and programmes rather than on catalogue sales, the LA Screenings is much more editorially led than markets like Mipcom and MipTV, notes Jason Simms, director of drama and comedy at the UK’s Sky Vision. “In terms of the number and quality of the buyer, it’s probably the best market there is.”

Sony Pictures Entertainment president of worldwide distribution Keith Le Goy likens the week of the LA Screenings to the transfer window in Premier League football when executives are prepped to strike deals. “Buyers from around the world descend on LA and they’re in the mood to buy. They are all looking for what could be the next The Good Doctor or The Blacklist.”

A buyer, for example, may spend much of the day at Disney, screening the studio’s newest series, before moving on to the likes of Sony, NBC Universal or Warner Bros. And the concentration of so many buyers and decision-makers in one place for such a short period of time is what has led to top international distributors such as Beta Film, Endemol Shine, Fremantle, Gaumont and Keshet to take part at LA Screenings too.

Veronique Verges, senior vice-president, Latin America and Spanish USA for Endemol Shine International, is taking dramas including Kudos’s Deep Water and Endemol Shine Israel’s Harem to present to Latin American clients, who will be out in force at the market this year. She says LA Screenings is perfectly positioned between Natpe and Mipcom and is a good midpoint to close negotiations and present new releases.

“Our attendance at LA Screenings is comparable to Natpe as both markets equally serve our needs in the Americas,” she says. “Mipcom has always been our most international market and this is where the wider Endemol Shine Group covers its global business. Then MIP Cancun plays an increased role for our Latin American business but does not quite match Natpe or LA Screenings.”

Le Goy says for Sony the LA Screenings is “the most important market in a world where markets are becoming less important because our business is now a year-round business”.

He notes, for example, that Sony as well as a number of other Hollywood studios did not attend last month’s MipTV. “We invest a lot more now in building an infrastructure, with offices in production and distribution around the world, so we can be closer to the market, creative talent, and to our customers and consumers on a daily basis, and not just once or twice a year,” he says. …

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