Fremantle bosses Jennifer Mullin and Andrea Scrosati have dissected the deal with Angelina Jolie which sees the Oscar-winning actress produce films, TV series and documentaries over the next three years, with Scrosati saying “it was a low risk in the initial phase”.
Giving a rare opening speech together at Mipcom Cannes, the group’s CEO and COO said Jolie was wooed by several suitors when they first met last year.
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“She was looking for a producing partner and had many opportunities with others,” Mullin said. “We met a few times when we were in the throes of Covid still on Zoom. She wants to tell ambitious and impactful stories and we can find all the right notes and tones.
Mullin added that Fremantle can “offer him the most flexibility”, while Scrosasti pointed to the agnostic nature of the deal over “golden handcuffs” streamer ties.
“With us, talents know that we will focus on their projects and then together we will find the right home,” Scrosati continued. “It means a bit of risk in the initial phase, but I think it’s the best job for a producer.”
Oscar winner Girl, Interrupted, Mr & Mrs Smith and Changeling actress Jolie, who is special envoy for the UN refugee agency, will produce, direct or star in films, TV series and documentaries on a case-by-case basis as she seeks to tell sophisticated stories, powerful and internationally oriented, including local language projects.
The first from the project is an adaptation of the international bestseller by Alessandro Baricco without bloodwhich went into production a week after the deal was closed.
In a wide Mipcom panel, the pair said they were on track to meet ambitious revenue targets of €3 billion set by parent company RTL Group by 2025, after a record high in 2021 of around 2 billion euros even as the Covid pandemic was still having an impact. .
“Covid has been tough but we’ve bounced back very well,” said Mullin, who dodged a question about reports that RTL owner Bertelsmann was interested in acquiring ITV Studios.
With the recent acquisitions of Fremantle, in particular normal people producer Element Pictures and Italian indie veteran Lux Vide, the duo hinted that more mergers and acquisitions are to come, but businesses need to be culturally appropriate.
“For every deal we made, we go through 10,” Scrosati said. “Obviously there is a financial component, but the real work begins when the transaction is concluded. It is a creative vision.
They also eased fears that the Europe-wide cost of living crisis would have a major impact on output.
Scrosati said the company “shut down 470 devices in one day ‘due to Covid’ in March 2020, and within a year it had reached record revenues.
Mullin added that Fremantle was having conversations with the commissioners over budgets on a “case by case” basis.
“We’re not that prescriptive,” she added. “We operate in many territories and take the lead from that territory to see what challenges exist to support them.”
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