Former NBCU Intl. prexy to lead expansion into scripted prod'n
Based in London, Smith will spearhead the company’s push to produce scripted programming for the U.K., U.S. and Canuck markets. Christina Wayne, the Gotham-based prexy of Cineflix Studios, will report to Smith.
Smith said he was drawn to the Cineflix opportunity because of its existing exec team and because the parent company has the resources to fund its expansion in the scripted arena. Cineflix Media is an established producer of unscripted fare for Canadian TV outlets. “Copper,” Cineflix’s first U.S. drama series production, bowed last week on BBC America.
“They’ve got a track record of success in non-scripted and good strong cash flows,” Smith told Variety. “There’s a real opportunity to build a significant business here. Building businesses was the part of my job that I really enjoyed at NBCUniversal.”
Cineflix aims to develop high-end programs that can be shopped to networks in multiple territories, though its primary focus will be to cater to the needs of networks in each of its target markets. “Your show has to work in its home market or you won’t get another commission,” Smith said.
Cineflix faces a number of competitors that are focused on a similar import-export development strategy, including EOne and Gaumont Intl. NBCUniversal, Fox and Sony Pictures are also plowing significant resources into building up overseas production operations with an eye toward selling shows and formats around the world.
“We’re going to be in a competitive environment,” he said. “We’ll have to slug it out with them and go for quality material.”
Smith spent 11 years in exec posts at Universal Pictures Intl. Entertainment and NBCU Intl. He stepped down last year amid the management shakeup at the Peacock following the Comcast takeover.