‘TV bubble has burst’ says StudioCanal CEO Anna Marsh, unveils Benedict Cumberbatch drama

Anna Marsh

StudioCanal’s CEO Anna Marsh has told MIPTV attendees here in Cannes that the TV bubble “has burst”, as the French group unveiled a new drama with Benedict Cumberbatch and a new deal with Strong Film & Television.

Marsh used her keynote on Monday to point to a slowing content market, with production budgets being squeezed as broadcasters and streamers look for more cost-efficient fare.

“The TV bubble has burst. We were enjoying a wonderful time and endless shows, there were lots of greenlights after very short development periods,” she said.

“Some of those developments are now taking longer and some aren’t getting over the hump or they’re just not getting greenlit as quickly,” said Marsh, who added that second and third season commissions have also been getting harder to secure.

Benedict Cumberbatch

She also said that being part of Canal+ Group, which is in turn part of European media giant Viendi, provided her company with “stability” and to be able to “take a breath”, while allowing creatives to take stories across various mediums ranging from film and TV, but also podcasts, music and gaming.

Cumberbatch commission & Strong deal

Marsh used her keynote to unveil a new six-parter based on Matt Haig’s How To Stop Time, which is in the works with Canal+, StudioCanal and Cumberbatch’s prodco Sunnymarch, which is backed by the French firm.

The drama will star Cumberbatch in the lead role as Tom Hazard, with DC Moore (Mary & George) attached to write and Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) directing.

It will shoot in London and Europe in 2024 and will be based on the “genre-bending, globe-trotting thriller,” which explores the lives of people who do not age. The story centres on Hazard, who was born in 15th Century France and has lost everything because of his condition.

StudioCanal has previously worked with Haig on Gil Kenan’s feature film A Boy Called Christmas and is in active development on the author’s novel, The Midnight Library.

Cumberbatch said: “In his inimitable style, Matt once again explores what it is to be human and what it is to live a life – a very long one in this case – with pathos, insight, humour, drama and inspiration.”

Marsh also confirmed StudioCanal’s investment in Strong Film & Television, the James Strong (Vigil) and Matt Tombs outfit that was launched in the UK in 2020.

Specifics were not revealed but Marsh said she remained “opportunistic” around further M&A activity.

“Our strategy is not to go about and buy as many companies as we can. We are looking for strategic alliances, to work with like-minded talent and producers in front and behind the camera.

“We are out there looking for partnerships. We want people who want to build European content with international potential and who are passionate.”

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