This week’s Intl. TV Newswire analyzes a surge in new studio complex announcements; HBO’s “Run” is chosen to close next month’s Series Mania, Endeavor and Exile sign up Mexico’s Sebastián Hofmann; and Scandinavian series snag a remarkable presence at Canneseries and Series Mania.

Moviebox, Lansdowne Announce Portuguese Complex, as Studio Plans Proliferate

MovieBox Premiere and Lansdowne Partners have announced a €60million ($66 million) investment in developing a state-of-the-art film and media complex in the Algarve region of southern Portugal, headed by former Pinewood director Dave Godfrey. Based in the municipality of Loulé, the “vast complex” will host streaming platform Moviebox Premiere itself and “world class production facilities,” Moviebox announced Friday.

In positing what it describes as a “vast complex,” Moviebox Premiere is hardly alone. A Berlinale trend this year was the  escalation in new big studio announcements. Reasons cut various ways.

Incentives have proliferated given a “growing recognition among governments of the valuable effects that film and high-end television drama production can bring,” Leon Ford wrote in Olsberg-SPI’s November 2019 Global Incentives Index, which details 98 such schemes around the world.

In such a context, however, “Certain markets are becoming prohibitively expensive to produce in, which would include the U.S. and to a lesser extent the U.K.,” says Guy Bisson at Ampere Analysis. “International productions makes a lot of sense. You can make high-quality drama for much, much lower budgets.”

So relatively cost-efficient countries are trying to cash in, either building or expanding studio facilities (Madrid Content City, Italy’s Apulia Studios, Hungary’s Mafilm) or investing directly in content production (MediaNet Partners, backing El Estudio).

Just how many studio projects get across the finishing line s another question. An international studio surge is, however, most definitely game on.

HBO’s “Run” to Close Series Mania

“Run,” a new HBO half-hour comedy series, will world premiere at Series Mania, where it has been chosen as the 2020 Series Mania festival Closing Night series. “Run’s” writer and executive producer Vicky Jones will attend the screening of the first two episodes and take part in a Q & A earlier on March 28.  “We are also pleased to celebrate the talent of its creator, Vicky Jones, whose work we have admired since Fleabag and Killing Eve, and who proves, if needed, that comedy is a genre where women’s talent is precious. Run, along with Vicky, will put the final touches to a particularly female-inspired 2020 edition of Series Mania and we are delighted.” “Run” continues a close title by title relationship between Series Mania and HBO which saw itv world premiere Season 1 of “Succession” as its opening series in 2018, and its 2017 edition open with the world premiere of Ep. 1 and 2 of the third and final season of “The Leftovers,” with Damon Lindelof in attendance.

Exile, Endeavor Sign up Sebastian Hofmann

The race to close down top Latin American talent continues. After Viacom Intl. Studios announced first-look deals at or after Natpe with Argentina’s Ariel Winograd, and producers Frida Torresblanco and Infinity Hill, “El Chapo” producer Exile Content Studios and Endeavor Content, which hold down a development-production alliance for Latin America and Spain, have signed up Mexican writer-director Sebastián Hofmann, whose Sundance-selected feature debut, “Halley,” a hauntingly compassionate record of a man’s physical decay, marked him as a talent to track. Written with fellow Piano partner Julio Chavezmontes, “Time Share” marked a move towards the mainstream, a withering “serious comedy,” shot with high-style and horror beats on what he called “another layer of globalization” – big business resorts. First up for Hoffman under the deal is smart horror series “Jabalí” set in middle-of-nowhere Mexico.

Scandi Power

What do Nordic drama series creatives eat for breakfast? Certainly, nothing which spoils their ability to create TV festival-friendly titles., as recent 2020 Canneseries and Series Mania lineup announcements underscored.

Remarkably, five of Canneseries’ 10 competition contenders hail from Scandinavia; with five further titles in competition or International Panorama, after the U.K. Scandinavia also has the biggest presence at this year’s Series Mania.

Why is another question. Some Nordic series are scaling up, led at Canneseries by “Atlantic Crossing,” starring Sofie Helin (“The Bridge”) and Kyle MacLachlan as Crown Princess Märtha of Norway and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The writers of Nordic modern classics have not given up the ghost. “DNA,” another Canneseries competitor, is created, written and executive produced by “The Killing’s” Torleif Hoppe; Veronica Zacco (“The Bridge” Season 4) serves as head writer on “Top Dog,” also in competition.

The titles handle hot-button issues; Series Mania competition entry “Cry Wolf” turns on (alleged) domestic abuse; in Series Mania’s International Panorama title “Thin Ice,” from Finland, a London-based vigilante squad combats gender violence.

They are also strongly backed by the international distribution sector, adding resources and increasing potential fest selection. Beta Film, Newen Distribution, ZDFE, Federation Entertainment, About Premium Content, Banijay Rights, Lionsgate and Cineflix Rights handle international distribution rights to, respectively, “Atlantic Crossing, ”DNA,” “Top Dog,” “Partisan,” “Man in Room 301” at Canneseries and  “Thin Ice,” “Cold Courage” and “The Minister” at Series Mania.

(Pictured: “Run”)