UPDATE from Ontario Film Office Los Angeles Rep – November 10, 2017

I’m back at this report after a few crazy weeks which revolved around American Film Market activities and events and a series of meetings with Ontario Film Commissioner Justin Cutler, who visited LA last week.

It was really gratifying to speak and work with so many Ontario-based producers in town for AFM – the level of talent and expertise in our jurisdiction is getting higher and higher and the LA-based people Justin and I met with clearly recognize it. In all of our meetings there was an interest and excitement around what is happening in Ontario, and in particular, what our content creators can bring to the table. As the entertainment industry continues to consolidate and become more global in nature Canadians’ ability to work across cultures and their virtues of tolerance and diversity have emerged as valuable advantages.

But, back to what made headlines this week.

Reports of sexual misconduct in Hollywood have continued to pile up, but as salacious as some of those stories are, equally shocking this week were reports that the Walt Disney Company is contemplating a purchase of 21st Century Fox’s movie and TV studios.

CNBC initially reported on Monday that Fox would sell “most of” 21st Century Fox to the Walt Disney Company, though not the broadcast network or its sports programming”. The story also said the talks were initiated by Fox because of a “growing belief among its senior management that scale in media is of immediate importance and there is not a path to gain that scale in entertainment through acquisition.”

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the potential deal has been discussed for weeks, but is currently inactive.

As reported in the L.A. Times below, Fox side swept talk of the deal on Wednesday by publicly issuing a vote of confidence in the company’s brands and management team.

http://beta.latimes.com/business/hollywood/la-fi-ct-fox-earnings-20171108-story.html

The Atlantic was just one of several publications this week that contemplated what a Disney-Fox merger would look like. It posits below that if Fox, with all its resources,  is looking at the increasingly expensive future of moviemaking and considering taking itself out of the picture, it’s hard to imagine how Universal (owned by Comcast), Sony, and Paramount (owned by Viacom) will manage, given that they already devote much less revenue to filmmaking.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/11/the-chilling-implications-of-a-disney-fox-merger/545135/

Seismic shifts in the industry – like a potential Disney-Fox merger – don’t happen in a vacuum and it’s no secret that for years the traditional “big six” studios have struggled as streaming services first disrupted distribution models and now, content creation itself.

It makes sense then, that this merger bombshell comes the same week as news that Apple TV’s first scripted show will feature mega-stars Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. As detailed in the Hollywood Reporter below, following a multiple-outlet bidding war, Apple emerged as the victor for a morning show drama which was picked up as a straight-to-series, two-season order.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/jennifer-aniston-reese-witherspoon-morning-show-drama-lands-at-apple-2-season-order-1056144

As mentioned earlier, headlines in Hollywood and around the globe continue to be dominated by reports of sexual misconduct in the film and television industry. Bloomberg News reports this week that the Harvey Weinstein scandal continues to put the spotlight on New York’s $420 million film tax credit program. As detailed below, one Senator in that state has called for an end to all film tax credits, and legislation is being drafted in the State Assembly to prohibit any company from receiving tax breaks if they knew, or should have known, about sexual harassment and failed to respond.

https://www.bna.com/weinstein-scandal-puts-n73014471505/

Netflix is also dealing with fallout as a result of multiple sexual misconduct allegations against actor / producer Kevin Spacey, who toplines its breakout hit House of Cards. As reported in the Times below, experts say while the scandal represents a public-relations debacle for Netflix, it isn’t likely to materially affect the company.

http://beta.latimes.com/business/hollywood/la-fi-ct-netflix-kevin-spacey-20171104-story.html#nt=oft13a-6gp1

News this week that Paramount Pictures’ $1-billion film-financing deal with China’s Huahua Media has collapsed was seen as the latest sign of retrenchment by Chinese investors in Hollywood. As detailed in the Times below,  the move was a blow to Paramount, which has endured a prolonged drought at the box office and financial losses. The studio was counting on the money to finance 25% of the its film slate for three years.

http://beta.latimes.com/business/hollywood/la-fi-ct-paramount-huahua-film-financing-20171107-story.html#nt=oft13a-2gp1

Finally this week, some good news regarding one of Toronto’s favorite sons. In a Hollywood Reporter cover story this week superstar rapper Drake outlines his ambitious push into film and television.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/features/drakes-hotline-hollywood-inside-an-ambitious-push-film-tv-1055765