ZDF Enterprises Acquires Major Stake in ‘Unorthodox’ Producer Real Film – Global Bulletin

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ACQUISITION

Expanding on their already fruitful non-fiction partnership, ZDF Enterprises and Studio Hamburg Production Group have agreed to a closer working relationship in fiction production starting in January of next year, when ZDF Enterprises will acquire a 49% stake in Real Film, a Studio Hamburg subsidiary. The purchase is currently awaiting approval from German antitrust authorities.

“I am pleased to now extend the excellent collaboration that already exists in the non-fictional area with the Studio Hamburg Production Group to the fictional genre,” said ZDFE president and CEO Fred Burcksen. “Real Film is a great addition to our investment portfolio in fiction programs. I wish the two managing directors of Real Film Michael Lehmann and Henning Kamm every success.”

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“We are delighted to be working with ZDF Enterprises to further strengthen the successful Real Film brand,” said Studio Hamburg’s Michael Lehmann and Johannes Züll. “Real Film already produces a wide variety of productions for cinema, TV and streaming services and would like to continue to offer the best creative people a successful home in the future. We look forward to touching, humorous, exciting films and series made in Berlin!”

Real Film has backed major cinematic productions such as ARD’s historical drama about the East-West divide, the €4 million ($4.7 million) TV event movie “3 1/2 Hours”; Netflix’s award-winning series “Unorthodox” with Studio Airlift; and ZDF’s crime series “Against Angst” among others.

AWARDS

The European Film Awards will honor British filmmaker Steve McQueen with its inaugural Award for Innovative Storytelling for his celebrated work on the “Small Axe” film collection. The anthology of period films about London’s West-Indian community was released on Amazon Prime Video and has already garnered a great deal of critical and award praise including an Emmy nomination for cinematographer Shabier Kirchner and a Bafta best supporting actor with for Malachi Kirby.

With the award, the European Film Academy recognizes the anthology as “ground-breaking pièce d’oeuvre that forces audiences to see where it hasn’t looked before,” and praises its presentation of “a multi-faceted history which has never been given the attention it deserves.”

The Award of Innovative Storytelling was first announced in 2020, established to reflect the changes in cinema and recognize innovations to cinematic storytelling in Europe.

APPOINTMENT

ITV Studios has revealed several senior production appointments resulting from a restructuring executed to ensure that the company is well placed to face the increasing global demand for content by growing its U.K. and international production operations. Three new directors of production will oversee U.K. scripted, U.K. non-scripted and international production. Prompting the creation of the positions was the decision by long-time director of production Sally Debonnaire to retire from full-time production management early next year.

Matt Cleary and Helen Killeen have been appointed as director of production for U.K. scripted and non-scripted respectively, with Ben Russel taking the position of director of production for international. Jeanette Moffat will be the new head of production at Lifted Entertainment and Alice Gairdner will do the same at ITV Studios Daytime, with Nader Mabadi and Lee Rayner taking the same position at Emmerdale and Coronation Street respectively.

MUSIC

The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced it will be launching a market study of the music streaming industry and is currently considering and developing the study’s scope with plans to launch as soon as possible. To that end, the CMA has outlined the next steps it’s planning to take to the Government and the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. According to the CMA, market studies are one of the organizations key tools used to identify and, if needed, address any competition and consumer issues. Other such market studies currently ongoing include investigations of Google’s privacy sandbox, Facebook’s use of ad data and Apple’s AppStore.

ANIMATION

108 Media has picked up the rights and kicked off production on a new horror-animation series adapted from the popular young adult book “A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts.” Developed as an anthology series, L.A.-based showrunner Tricia Lee is writing each episode with Taiwanese filmmaker Lester Hsi (“The Bridge Curse”) directing. Set in different eras of Chinese and global culture, the eight ghost stories are presented as a banquet, with live-action appetizers and desserts served at the beginning at end of each episode. The series is produced and financed by 108 Media with development and production being handled jointly in L.A. and Taipei. Delivery is planned for early Q4 if 2022 in English and Mandarin.

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