Series Mania 2022 – Series Mania Forum
Industry Report: Series
HBO Max unveils its European offensive
The Series Mania Forum saw the European teams of WarnerMedia EMEA, steered by Antony Root, unveil their plans, current developments and their content strategies for HBO Max on the Old Continent
With Vera Peltekian representing France, Miguel Salvat representing Spain, Christian Wikander representing Scandinavia and Johnathan Young representing central Europe, and with executive VP of WarnerMedia EMEA and head of Original Production for Europe Antony Root also in attendance, the Series Mania Forum was full to bursting yesterday, with attendees keen to listen to the local heads of HBO Max in Europe, where the streamer is continuing its gradual expansion (read our news and article) under the banner of its indisputable global trademark: high quality. Interestingly, HBO Max is now a partner (much like Newen, France Télévisions and Entreprises et Cités) of the Series Mania Institute, having committed to invest €900,000 into the school over the next three years.
According to Antony Root, HBO Max’s growth within Europe is "more of an adjustment than a radical change: we’re looking for local iterations of what we do in the USA and, of course, consistently audacious programmes that you don’t see anywhere else. Above all, we’re looking for authentic, local stories for a local audience with a view to drawing in new subscribers, but also positively impacting existing subscribers. In this sense, we’re going to double the number of programmes we order and enhance diversity levels, especially when it comes to documentary series."
According to Johnathan Young (Central Europe), the motto is "sure-fire hooks and strong characters". By way of an example, he mentioned Polish series The Thaw [+see also:
series profile] (written by Marta Szymanek and directed by Xawery Żuławski) which will launch on 1 April across all HBO Max regions), Hungary’s The Informant [+see also:
interview: Bálint Szentgyörgyi
series profile] (news), Romanian series Ruxx and Slovakia’s The Winner (news).
For his part, Miguel Salvat (Spain) underlined "the difference between complex and complicated. We’re looking for projects offering different possible readings, new viewpoints, new perspectives, on events which have already been explored in other ways, too, as brilliantly illustrated by Patria [+see also:
series profile]." Stand-out works in the pipeline which are about to begin filming include the second seasons of 30 Coins [+see also:
series profile] by Álex de la Iglesia and One Way or Another, and ¡García! (news) which is currently in post-production. They’re impressive offerings from a country where series production is booming, where "competition is high when it comes to accessing talent both behind and in front of the cameras", and where open-mindedness needs to be preserved at all costs, because "everyone is looking for yesterday’s winning ticket, but that won’t come around again, so you have to look for tomorrow’s champion."
Christian Wikander (of the Nordic countries - news), meanwhile, insisted on HBO Max’s very careful development approach, foregrounded series such as Sweden’s Lust (news) which began streaming on 18 March, and spoke of "the veritable deluge of brilliant Nordic series at present": "you need to remain very open in order to find the next Squid Game."
As Vera Peltekian (of France, where HBO Max should become available in 2023 at a date yet to be confirmed) explained: "We’re looking for projects in French. Our aim isn’t to generate a huge volume of original productions; we want a constant volume. You have to fight against certain prejudices in France and there are lots of genres re-discover. We’re convinced there’s plenty of room for us, too, because there’s a very sharp and incredibly curious audience of thirty and forty-somethings who are very well acquainted with narrative subtleties. We’ll have a lot of freedom when it comes to formats and we’re going to work on all genres."
(Translated from French)
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