MipCancun 2021: A Content Feeding Frenzy, Buzz Titles, Mexico & Big Production Plays

The Age of Anger
Credti: The Mediapro Studio

One of Reed Midem’s most successful TV events, the fast growing MipCancun has stood out for its efficient one-to-one meeting coordination, a carefully curated conference program and the bigger picture of an exploding premium series production sector in Latin America, offering as sense of real commercial opportunity and larger artistic ambition.

UniFrance, with 16 distributors, ProColombia with 17, and Argentina’s INCAA /AAECI with 7 are all hosting national pavilions at MipCancun – one sign of a shared international sense of market promise.

As MipCancun director Bénédicte Touchard de Morant reminded delegates on Tuesday night at this year’s inauguration, MipCancun remains in essence a mass networking event. Its very setting, at just one part of a monumental all inclusive hotel on the shores of the Caribbean, in itself encourages ad hoc encounters, as do its drinks events and parties. So 2021’s nearly-500 attending delegates will benefit immensely from an on-site MipCancun, after last’s year online edition. Compared even to Nov. 2019, the sector’s moved on dramatically, however.

Below, key takes on this year’s MipCancun reunion:

The New Big Picture

Since the last in-person MipCancun two years ago, Pluto TV launched in Latin America in March 2020, Disney Plus in Nov. 2020, Paramount Plus in March 2021 and HBO Max in June this year. “Everybody’s reacting to the demand for content that’s coming from the studio streamers,” says Christian Gabela, SVP, head of Latin American & Spain at “Narcos” producer Gaumont US who will talk at a Mipcom panel about the company’s production goals and initiatives in Latin America. Roll-outs have been massive. Disney Plus confirmed last November that it had more 70-plus Latin American originals in development or production. That kind of impact cannot but play out at MipCancun.

‘Super Indies’ Become Even More Super

That said, the stage at MipCancun will be largely given to many of the region’s biggest “Super Indies.” Speakers take in execs from Dopamine, Caracol TV, Gaumont, Banijay, Endemol Shine Boomdog, The Mediapro Studio, RT and Turkey’s Intermedya, as well as Telemundo and WarnerMedia. What’s the Super Indie’s main strategic goal for Latin America and the U.S.? To grow even more in a demand-driven Spanish-language TV scene. Banijay’s presentation, from Marie Leguizamo, its managing director for Mexico and the U.S., is entitled, symptomatically, Banijay: Global Independents Expanding Their Spanish-Language Footprint.

Scaling Up Productions

Companies are also scaling up specific series. Produced with Dopamine, WarnerMedia’s “Coyotl” is a supernatural social-issue drama that turns on a man-monster protecting his Tarahumara homeland from drug cartels. “We are constantly looking for new paths for storytelling,” says Mipcom speaker Marcelo Tamburri, head of scripted content development at WarnerMedia Latin America. “Production scale is always related to the specific needs of each project to have the greatest impact and attract the attention of our diverse audience in the region, and we are willing to invest in larger scale productions to achieve this goal.”

Latin Event Productions

MipCancun takes place just after Globo launched on Oct. 20 “Hidden Truths II,” a large step up in artistic ambition, smashing audience records on its SVOD/AVOD platform Globoplay. On Oct. 28 BTF Media has released its biggest bioseries to date, Amazon Prime Series hit “Maradona: Blessed Dream.” Pantaya and Endemol Shine Boomdog has just announced big banner project “A Beautiful Lie,” a modern take on “Anna Karenina” starring and exec produced by Kate del Castillo. At MipCancun, Dopamine CEO Fidela Navarro will talk about production studios’ role in the creation of glocal events. Cutting through the content clutter and often based on big IP appealing to platform and broadcast audiences alike, event series are likely to only grow in number in Latin America.

Buzz Titles

Any big ratings breakout in Turkey these days bids fair to become a major hit in Latin America. At a Tuesday evening MipCancun presentation, The Wit’s Caroline Servy drilled down on some recent Turkish standouts and potential blockbusters – Madd Entertainment’s “Family Secrets” for example. Some will be on the market at MipCancun. But Turkey doesn’t have a lock on success. “Your Love is My Fortune” bowed Nov. 7 on Televisa, topping free-to-air ratings. “Maradona: Blessed Dream” is another hit cited by Servy. She also talked up a “Latin New Wave” of “edgier even subversive” titles which she dubbed “Wild Wild Fiction,” made up of Spain’s “Cardo,” sold by Atresmedia Int. Sales; Sony Pictures TV’s “Malayerba,” from Starzplay and Pantaya; and HBO Latin America’s “Amongst Men,” a Berlinale Series Market standout.

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MalaYerba Credit: Pantaya

Growth Strategies in Latin America

Super Indies growth strategies cut multiple ways. The most obvious perhaps is tapping executives to handle escalating production volume – current or potential – in key markets. In the run-up to MipCancun, The Mediapro Studio, for example, announced it had promoted Eugeni Salient to head up its operations in Latin America. “Eugeni’s appointment ensures continuity in our expansion and growth across the region, especially in Mexico where we have major production objectives in fiction (TV and cinema) and non-fiction,” says Laura Fernández Espeso, CEO of The Mediapro Studio, which hosted MipCancun’s pre-opening drinks party last night. Federation Entertainment has just announced a whole new U.S. subsidy, L.A-based Animal Federation.

Women Fight Back

“Angry women” was one large focus of The Wit’s Mipcom Fresh TV Fiction showcase in October. Latin American has also bought into that trend, Servy suggested. Disney’s Star Plus launched this September the BTF Media-produced “No Fue Mi Culpa Mexico,” a domestic violence-themed anthology. On the open market at MipCancun, “Gente de Bien,” from 64-A and Latido, has a female journalist investigating the murder of a seven-year-old girl at a high-society party. Hardly known even a decade ago for its social-issue focus, Latin American TV has now developed a conscience.

Mexico: A Key Production Hub

Many of the speakers and biggest productions which look set to be talked up at MipCancun will be from Mexico. That reflects more then the event’s taking place in the country. Mexico is a platform priority, opening up the possibility of series playing two domestic markets: Mexico and the rich Latino U.S. “Mexico is a market with high priority for WarnerMedia Latin America content development strategy and many of our productions will be concentrated in this territory for its great relevance for the region,” says Tamburri. “We are proud to see how Mexican productions evolve in their narratives and quality, and now have the opportunity to travel globally through our streaming platform HBO Max.”

Back To The Roots: Platforms Drive Into Movies 

“There’s also a broader trend that’s coming mainly from the platforms, which is a kind of return to the roots, a drive into features,” says Gaumont’s Gabela of Latin America. Features can allow less risky bets on new talent and voices. They facilitate talent relationships, allowing talent to return to its often first love. As many studios with vast catalogs reshape as streamers, newer entrants have to face up to that competition.

Peak TV in Latin America? Forget It.

Most studios streamers have only begin to ramp up original productions in the last two-to-three years. “Everybody’s pushing towards more and more production. We’ve been talking about peak production for a long time but I don’t think we’re anywhere near it in Latin America. There’s so much industry still to be developed there,” Gabela concludes.