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International Newswire: ‘Game of Thrones’ Draws Overseas Plaudits, Huge Ratings

In today’s International Newswire, “Game of Thrones” conquers the hearts of audiences and critics alike in international territories; the BBC tunes into a new singing contest format; and the Swedish company behind sci-fi drama “Humans” is taken over.

As “Game of Thrones’” Season 7 climaxed to extraordinary audience figures in the U.K., punching 3 million viewers on pay-TV service Sky, vs. 1.8 million for the Season 6’s finale, reviewers across Europe and Latin America saluted the spectacle and drama of the HBO uber series — even as some, as in the U.S., poked holes in the storyline.

“A supersized, expertly paced and deeply satisfying close to the season, with a big reveal and a recurring theme: family,” proclaimed the U.K.’s The Guardian. At the end of a “spectacular yet uneven season,” the longest “Game of Thrones” episode yet was “also among the most breathtaking and incident-packed,” The Telegraph wrote. “After an irregular season, the last episode was spectacular,” echoed Brazil’s Exame.

Some people are never satisfied. The final opus was “almost like a French film, a grand bourgeois family reunion where the actors aren’t acting well and everybody’s slept with everybody,” joked France’s Liberation. “Where has all the sex gone?” whinged Spain’s El Pais. “Game of Thrones” might be more conventional and predictable now, but it is still hugely impactful, El Pais added. Everything seems to be in place, if international critical reactions are anything to go by, for “GOT’s” final season to be one of — if not the — biggest bow-outs in pay-TV history.

NICE ACQUIRES ‘HUMANS’ PRODUCTION COMPANY MATADOR
Nice Entertainment Group has acquired Swedish production company Matador Film. The company created and co-produced sci-fi drama series “Real Humans” for Sweden’s SVT, which was remade in English by AMC and Channel 4 as “Humans.”

Matador, which was set up by producer Henrik Widman and script-writer Lasse Lundstrom in 2009, also co-produced the television series “Farang” for C More/TV4 in Sweden.

Nice, which is comprised of 30 companies in 17 countries, is part of the pan-European television giant MTG. It produced the Oscar-nominated film “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared,” based on Jonas Jonasson’s novel. Will Ferrell will produce and star in CBS Films’ Hollywood movie version of the comedy, with Nice on board as well.

FIP, WILD BUNCH TAKE ‘VIKING’ TO FRENCH TERRITORIES
First International Production and Wild Bunch have partnered to acquire distribution rights for France, French-speaking Europe and French-speaking Africa to Russian historic action movie “Viking.” The deal was closed with Central Partnership. The film will be released in France early next year.

“Viking,” produced by Konstantin Ernst and Anatoly Maximov (the team behind Timur Bekmambetov’s “Night Watch”), and directed by Andrey Kravchuk, was released in Russia on Dec. 29. It has taken around $25 million at the box office in Russia and the CIS countries, becoming the top-grossing Russian film to be released last year.

“Viking” has been sold to more than 80 countries worldwide, including U.K., Germany and Italy. It has now sold out across Europe as well as Latin America.

BBC COMMISSIONS NEW SINGING CONTEST SHOW ‘ALL TOGETHER NOW’
The BBC has commissioned “All Together Now,” a six-part talent content show from Remarkable Television, part of Endemol Shine U.K. The series will air on Saturday nights on flagship channel BBC One.

Music acts – both solo artists and groups – will perform in front of an audience of 100 singers, known as “The 100.” If any of The 100 like what they hear, they stand up and join in. The greater the number that stand up and sing along, the higher the contestant’s score.

The series comprises five hour-long heats. At the end of each show, two performers progress to the final for the chance to win a cash prize.

A+E MAKES HISTORY IN VIETNAM
A+E Networks has launched History in Vietnam in partnership with the country’s Thaole Entertainment. The channel will be broadcast 24 hours a day in high-definition and subtitled in Vietnamese. History will be looking to produce original branded content in partnership with local partners in Vietnam.

Prem Kamath, deputy managing director, Asia Pacific, A+E Networks, said: “With the largest pay-TV subscriber base in South-East Asia at 13 million subscribers, Vietnam provides a tremendous opportunity to connect new viewers with history through our award-winning series and specials.”

MEXICO’S TV AZTECA ROLLS ON NEW-STYLE TELENOVELA ‘LA HIJA PRODIGA’
Overhauling its TV series production strategy, as have other major broadcasters across Latin America, Mexico’s TV Azteca, the country’s second biggest free-to-air TV network, has gone into production on “La hija pródiga,” a telenovela that lasts only 80 episodes.

The suspense-laced melodrama turns on a women who re-appears after disappearing mysteriously 20 years before. It joins other new-epoch TV Azteca novelas — such as drama-action series “Iron Lady,” about a narco-busting woman magistrate. These seek to given TV Azteca series a harder edge as it faces up to Netflix, which has earmarked Latin America for higher original series investment.

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