×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Series Mania: Paris Embraces ‘American Gods’

Bryan Fuller series receives enthusiastic reception on French debut at Series Mania

PARIS — Bryan Fuller’s “American Gods,” a highly-anticipated series at Paris’ Series Mania, one of Europe’s premier TV festivals, elicited admiration and enthusiasm on its Monday night screening, its continental Europe debut.

Indeed, the sophistication of audience reaction suggests just how keyed-in some young continental Europeans are to the work of major U.S. showrunners.

That said, seen two weeks back at its European premiere in London, the French debut left a predominantly YA French crowd wondering how they would access the rest of the series. “American Gods’” first TV window in international is on Amazon Prime Video, where it bows in France on May 1, one day after its U.S. release on Starz. Amazon Prime Video launched in France on Dec. 14 as part of APV’s global rollout into 200-plus countries. Such a recent launch will have given APV it little time to ramp up substantial subs in France; which of course is where “American Gods” may make a difference.

At a MipTV masterclass in early april, Amazon Studios’ Roy Price suggested that in most countries around the world the two most popular shows watched by people who joined prime Video were usually “Grand Tour” and “The Man in the High Castle.” “Those shows are bringing in and keeping customers and that’s a big area of focus,” Price said. Now, if the Paris reaction to “American Gods” is anything to go by, Amazon Prime Video has a third brand-enhancing sub driver.

Nobody quizzed by Variety after “American Gods’” Ep. 1’s screening pointed out some obvious differences between Neil Gaiman´s book and the series – such as that Shadow Moon, played by Ricky Whittle, is a far more proactive and sociable figure on screen. Paris didn’t pack the Gaiman fanbase of Austin, Texas, where “American Gids” world premiered last month. In fact, Series Mania spectators who had read the book were, from a Variety straw poll of reactions to the show on Monday night, in a minority at the Paris screening.

So “American Gods” had the power to shock in Paris. When Bilquis gobbles up a worshipful admirer during sex initiated through a Tinder-like date – one of the early set scenes in the novel – an audible gasp of admiration was heard in Paris’ Forum des Images’ largest screening room.

But the clued-in-ness of response in some cases was still impressive, doing nothing to diminish the gathering perception of France as a bastion of U.S. prestige TV.

In “American Gods,” “he still has the Bryan Fuller gore and darkness but more of a budget,” said Joanna, quizzed by Variety and wearing a toy butterfly in her hair in a tribute to Fuller’s “Hannibal.”

She added: “He’s finally with a network that actually respects him and gives him the money to do what he wants, which is very new.”

“The actors are flawless, and the artistic direction very good,” added Melibée, a friend.

The strength of performances, especially from Ian McShane as Wednesday, was particularly commented upon, as well as the beauty of visuals.

The opening credit sequence, the music, and the stylization of the violence – which lessens its brutality, one spectator said – also came in for praise.

Among those polled, two interviewees said they would at least try Amazon Prime Video’s trial subscription , just to watch “American Gods.” That trial is generous in France: 18-24-aged viewers there are able to benefit from a six-month, free-of-charge trial and then an annual subscription at just €24 ($25.5), half the €49 ($52) yearly rate for most adults.

Also, in a link-up between a digital platform and established players which is increasingly common overseas, FremantleMedia, which originally brought Starz and Amazon on board for “American Gods” and has second window TV rights in international, started conversations with linear broadcasters at MipTV with view to their broadcasting the series. “American Gods” was indeed one of the biggest shows being brought onto the market at the Cannes trade fair and buzz was huge. That linear broadcaster exposure looks likely to be a huge promo for “American Gods” in particular and Amazon in general and provide a TV event for linear broadcasters.

But established players are not embracing digital platform rivals without some caution.

Talking in a keynote Q & A on Tuesday at Series Mania, Christian Vesper, FremantleMedia creative director of global drama, commented that “Netflix is a great partner.” That said, “there are reasons to do deals with Netflix on some shows and reasons not to,” he added, citing Netflix’s partnership on “Rain,” produced by FremantleMedia-owned Miso Film, as a deal that made sense.

Amazon’s involvement on “American Gods” was essential for the show to get made, and leaves ample potential viewerships for international audiences in territories abroad.

How established and digital players will link up on first and second TV windows is indeed an increasingly key question.

It can be regarded with humor. Reviewing TF1’s deal last year with Netflix, which saw the French broadcaster screening the first two episodes of Netflix’s “Marseille” as Netflix launched the show in France, TF1 Group CEO Gilles Pelisson said when receiving Variety’s Achievement in International TV Award at MipTV that the arrangement gave TF1 “mixed feelings.”

“As one of my Harvard professors used to say, you have mixed feelings when you see your mother-in-law driving your brand new Ferrari over a cliff. We are in competition mode, but there is definitely a [potential] sharing of value,” Pelisson commented.

More TV

  • MMA Alters Faces of Asia Sports

    MMA Alters Faces of Asian Sports Broadcasting

    Bruce Lee was ahead of the curve by about four decades when he predicted back in the early 1970s that combat sports would one day take the world by storm. Hong Kong’s favorite son had encouraged his own students to mix up the styles of martial arts they were being trained in — to combine kung fu [...]

  • Variety Kit Harington Game of Thrones

    Kit Harington on How 'Game of Thrones' Mirrors Real-World Politics

    In Variety‘s March 19 cover story, Kit Harington opens up about the final season of “Game of Thrones” and growing into adulthood as part of the biggest show on television. In a conversation in London in December, Harington opened up about the similarities between the series’ politics and our own. “I think it’s always been about [...]

  • Chris O'Dowd

    TV News Roundup: Chris O'Dowd to Star in 'Twilight Zone' Episode

    In today’s roundup, The CW has released two clips from the upcoming “Riverdale” special “Heathers: The Musical,” and Chris O’Dowd will star in an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”  CASTING Chris O’Dowd will star in CBS All Access’ rebooted “The Twilight Zone” episode titled “The Blue Scorpion.” The series will premiere with two episodes on [...]

  • Kevin Tsujihara

    Kevin Tsujihara's Ouster Kicks Off a Week of Major Disruption in the Media Business

    The sudden ouster of Warner Bros. Entertainment chief Kevin Tsujihara kicked off what is likely to go down as one of the most extraordinary weeks in Hollywood history, spelling enormous turmoil and transition across the media landscape. In addition to the news about Tsujihara, which comes amid a wider shake-up of leadership at AT&T’s WarnerMedia, [...]

  • Wendy Williams Sober Living House

    Wendy Williams Reveals She's Been Staying in a Sober-Living House

    Wendy Williams, during an emotional monologue on her talk show on Tuesday, revealed through tears that she has been staying at a sober-living house. “So you know me for being a very open and truthful person,” she began the segment on “The Wendy Williams Show,” fighting through tears. “And I’ve got more to the story [...]

  • Hong Kong Industry Executives Seek Clarity

    FilMart: Hong Kong Industry Executives Plead for Clarity on Mainland Chinese Tax Policies

    At a time of heightened scrutiny of tax affairs in China’s entertainment sector, even industry veterans in Hong Kong are struggling to figure out how to operate in the new financial environment and pleading for more clarity from the Chinese government. Hong Kong produces about 60 films a year, three-quarters of which are typically co-productions [...]

  • Michael Jackson R Kelly

    'Leaving Neverland,' 'Surviving R. Kelly' Composers on How They Scored Sexual Abuse Docs

    How do you put music to child sexual abuse — especially if the accused predators are musical icons? That’s the challenge composers Chad Hobson and Nathan Matthew David faced as they scored HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” and Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly,” respectively. The documentaries are built around interviews with the alleged victims of Michael Jackson (two [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content