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International Newswire: Convergence, a Dangerous Liaison

Report question telecom convergence; U.K. movies dominate U.K. market; Mipcom lineup begins to fall into place, as HBO Europe adds execs, Gkids embraces ‘Mutafukaz,’ and the European Film Academy honors Carmen Maura

Today in Variety’s International Newswire, a study from Enders Analysis questions convergence; U.K. independent production scores its biggest market share in a near decade; Mipcom begins to come together; HBO Europe adds execs, Gkids acquires ‘Mutafukaz’ for North America; and EFA fetes Carmen Maura

Convergence. Since the early ‘90s, the word has become a mantra of Europe’s film and TV industries. That doesn’t mean of course that it will work. A report this week by Enders Analysis suggests in fact that European telecom operators’ bundling of mobile and fixed services, the later often including fiber optic delivery and content, is a “value destructive strategy.” “We see no evidence of churn reduction from this strategy,” the study contends. Offered at a discount, the bundling can spark price wars, reduce ARPU (average revenues per client) but not reduce churn. One case to point: the U.K. “Most U.K. operators offer very limited discounts on fixed/mobile bundles for now, sensibly focusing on enhanced services,” Enders Analysis comments, in reference to, among other, Vodafone in the U.K.. Another is Spain. After Telefonica’s Movistar + launched Fusion – bundling fiber optic delivery, mobile and IPTV –  in 2012, its ARPU and share declined, churn remained at best flat. Now, having launched original series and snagged premium sports rights, Movistar + is focusing on another tack: Upselling high-end content to high-value clients. Announced July 26, Movistar +’s second quarter results saw average revenues per Fusion client leap from €84.8 ($99.5), second quarter 2017, to €89.5 ($105), May-June 2018. “Spain is a low pay TV penetration market. So rather than earning loads of new additions, Movistar +’s strategy is to upsell more premium content to current subscribers,” said Maria Rua Aguete, at IHS Markit. Telefonica shares rose 3.5% to €7.63 ($9) over July 26. That may have more to do with its 10% debt reduction, but enhanced service strategy certainly helps.

U.K. Admissions Up 1.5%, B.O. 10% Down, U.K. Production Soars 

U.K. cinema theater admissions – including event cinema – edged up 1.8% to 85.5 million, first half 2018, according to BFI figures. Total cinema admissions, calculated only for movies, dropped 10.5% to £582.3 million ($762.8 million) against £649.5 million ($851 million), dented by a heatwave and World Cup soccer – though June figures this year were better than June last year – and, above all, by movies on release, which faced a tough comparison with 1H 2017. The standout statistic for the first six months of this year turns, however, on U.K. market share. U.K. films, including so-called “inward investment” movies – Hollywood movies made at U.K. studios – took a remarkable 52% of overall U.K. box office, led by Disney’s “Avengers: Infinity War.” Boosted by “Darkest Hour,” U.K. independent movies captured a 15% share, the best result since the BFI started reporting first half box office results in 2009. Studiocanal distributed five of the top 20 independent U.K. movies, consolidating its dominant indie distributor status.

Mipcom Lineup Gathers Steam

This year’s Mipcom lineup continues to fill out with the announcements of new series in Netflix’s “Escape at Dannemora” and Movistar+ original “The Pier,” and that U.K. TV chef Jamie Oliver and Twitter VP and global head of content partnerships Kay Madati will be joining the Media Mastermind Keynotes’ lineup. Oliver will celebrate and share highlights in his now decades-long, Emmy award winning TV career; Madati will host a keynote titled “#ContentIsHappening,” focused on the rapidly-evolving relationship between audiovisual content and the plethora of platforms now hosting it. Previously confirmed participants deliverung keynotes are BBC CEO Tim Davie and Josh Sapan, president and CEO, AMC Networks.

HBO Europe Appoints Two New Executives

HBO Europe has announced the appointments of two new executives as it expands its original production activities in Europe. Camilla Curtis will serve as script development executive for all HBO Europe territories, while Patricia Nieto has been named as production executive of original programing for HBO España. Camilla was a long-time employee at the U.K.’s UTV Studios and worked on a number of drama series. Nieto will be based out of Madrid and comes from Spanish prodco Calle Cruzada where she was involved on a number of high-end TV projects. Since 2010, while carefully seeking to care for its brand, never attempting volume production, HBO has been producing local drama in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Poland, and in 2016 expanded into Scandinavia and Spain.

Mutafukaz Animation Is Film Festival
CREDIT: Courtesy of Celluloid Dreams

“Mutafukaz” Lands North American Distribution

French-Japanese animated movie “Mutafkaz2 has made the grade: New York-based Gkids has acquired the North American distribution rights to French video game and animation company Ankama’s animated feature “Mutafukaz.” The film is adapted from Guillaume “Run” Rand’s successful graphic novel franchise, and is co-directed by the artist himself and Japanese director Shoujirou Nishimi from 4ºC Studio. Ankama is known for creating Netflix’s “Wakfu” and the MMORPG “Dofus,” while 4ºC have an impressive catalog which includes “Batman: Gotham Knight,” and a number of sequences in “The Animatrix.” The “Mutafukaz” books and film follow Angelino, an onyx-colored, spherical-headed pizza delivery driver who lives in Dark Meat City, a cartoonized interpretation of ‘90s L.A. The film is set to release on Oct 18, 2018 with a new English-language version available.

Spanish Actress/cast Member Carmen Maura Poses During a Photocall For the Movie 'El Futuro No Es Lo Que Era' (the Future is not what It Once Was) at the 19th Malaga Film Festival in Malaga Spain 29 April 2016 the Film Festival Runs From 22 April to 01 May Spain MalagaSpain Cinema - Apr 2016
CREDIT: Jorge Zapata/Epa/REX/Shutterstoc

European Film Academy Fetes Carmen Maura

EFA will present Carmen Maura with an honorary Lifetime Achievement Award at the upcoming European Film Awards in Seville on Dec. 15. Few will question its appropriateness. A scion of a great Spanish family, the Mauras – she is great grand niece of Spanish president Antonio Maura – Carmen Maura broke through with Fernando Colomo’s 1977 “Tigres de Papel.” Though her most famous role may be as a transexual in “The Law of Desire,” she has been at her best embodying the resilience of Latino womanhood, unflappable in outrageous circumstance (“Pepi, Luci, Bom…”), surviving emotional free-fall (“Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”), emigration (“The Women on the Sixth Floor”). A supreme comedian – think Fernando Trueba’s “Move Over Mrs. Markham” – she has already won two EFAs, shared a best actress award at Cannes, taken a San Sebastian Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award, remains completely unaffected.

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