International Insider: Drama Schools Uncovered; Disney Ads Go Global; Korean ‘Zombieverse’

Good afternoon Insiders, it’s been another sleepy yet somehow simultaneously eventful August week here at Deadline International Towers. Read on for investigations, headlines, scoops and anaylsis, as Max Goldbart steers you through the past few days.

Drama Schools Uncovered

Breeding grounds for bad behavior: UK drama schools are the foundations for some of the finest acting talent in the world. Anthony Hopkins, Judi Dench, and Gary Oldman are among the icons who learned their craft in the hallowed halls of these British institutions. But Deadline’s Drama Schools Uncovered investigation this week revealed that schools, including the revered Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, are breeding grounds for sexual harassment, discrimination, and bullying. We revealed that 11 of the most prestigious schools in the UK received nearly 100 misconduct complaints over the past three years, with around half of the sexual harassment and racism cases upheld.

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Systemic Issues: Jake spoke to dozens of current and former students, teachers, and industry observers to illuminate the data disclosed by drama schools under Freedom of Information requests. They spoke of systemic issues within schools, describing an environment in which students are in thrall to influential teachers and permissive cultures empower predators. Among the stories we heard were female graduates alleging that they were sexually propositioned by lecturers. One Black graduate said he was asked to paint his face white for a musical.

Stripping students of rights: Those who went on the record included Ciara Charteris, an actress who has starred in series including the BBC’s Poldark. She recalled disturbing experiences at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, including female students being groped by classmates wearing a “rape mask” during a dramatic exercise. She also alleged that male tutors hit on female students and made comments about their weight. “The fundamental grounding of the courses themselves are built on things that are trying to strip a person of their natural rights, their physical rights, their gut instincts. It’s all about letting those things go in literal, practical exercise form,” she says. Charteris left the school in her second year to take on acting work. Read her story here.

Schools respond: Drama schools said student welfare is their highest priority and that disciplinary action is taken when tutors or pupils behave inappropriately. Most pointed to recent improvements in diversity and inclusion, complaints procedures, and student welfare support. It was not enough to prevent calls for better regulation from those who spoke with Deadline. There will be more to come from our Drama Schools Uncovered series, so check back for further updates.

Disney+ Ads Go Global

It all ads up: Disney results day Wednesday and that meant a laser focus from Deadline’s crack team on all things emanating from the Bob Iger-run Mouse House, which, it would be fair to adjudge, had a mixed quarter. In the international space, the big news was the rollout of flagship streamer Disney+’s ad tier beyond the U.S., with the expansion coming to the UK, Canada and select European markets on November 1. Currently costing $7.99, this tier is already available in the U.S. and mirrors the well-documented move made by Netflix late last year. It encapsulates the way in which the streamer market is changing at a rate of knots. While many of these big players previously pledged a no-ads future, Wall Street’s demand for profit combined with the nasty economic downturn means that they are now seeking ways in which to make a bit of extra cash. Netflix’s ad-tier is broadly seen as a success so far, with decent take up, and Disney is clearly looking beyond its home shores to match its rival. Iger used the results call to reveal the ad-supported version of Disney+ had attracted 3.3 million subscribers since its launch last December. Since it became available, 40% of new subscribers have chosen the ad-supported option – healthy numbers. Iger also used the results call to elaborate on plans to potentially row back from certain territories, stating: “There are some markets that we will invest less in local programming but still maintain the service. There are some markets that we may not have a service at all.” Worrying signs. Meanwhile in the UK, Jake dug through Disney’s local company accounts to find a promising 20% revenue boost, which Disney credited in part to audiences returning to West End stage plays like The Lion King. Hakuna Matata indeed.

The Seoul Of The ‘Zombieverse’

“We have experience with zombies”: “Tell-tale bloodshot eyes, popping veins, blood spurting everywhere.” No this isn’t Deadline Towers on a busy news day, it’s Netflix’s latest South Korean reality offering Zombieverse. In the show, 10 contestants must work together to secure basic necessities and survive the zombie onslaught with the ultimate goal of reaching an evacuation ship on Wolmi Island (35 kilometres outside Seoul). If they get bitten, they turn into a zombie and exit the game. Our Asia expert Liz Shackleton headed to Korea earlier this week where she sat down with producers Moon Sang Don and Park Jin Kyung, who told her that they had been aided by Korea’s penchant for hosting zombie pics and series, the likes of Train to Busan, Peninsula and All of Us Are Dead. “Few countries have Korea’s level of experience with zombies,” Park told Liz, grinning all the while. Netflix has been going big in Korea with billions of content spend planned over the coming years and the unscripted pivot is there for all to see following the success of shows such as Physical 100. Dive deeper.

Gearing Up For Edinburgh

The Scottish fest: It’s been a trialing 12 months for the Edinburgh International Film Festival. This year’s edition, which kicks off late next week, sees the Scottish fest return after effectively shutting down when the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI), the charity that owned it, appointed administrators last year. Fortunately, there is a happy ending, with Screen Scotland buying the intellectual rights nine months ago and a new team taking the reins. Now, 24 feature films including Christian Petzold’s Afire and Celine Song’s Past Lives are among the titles set to screen alongside five retrospectives and a five-pic short film program. Zac sat down with new boss Kate Taylor and exec Tamara Van Strijthem to talk through what they have in store and get thoughts on the past 12 months. “We don’t want it to be an interim year. It’s going to be its own special thing,” Taylor tells Zac of her plans for this year. “But it’s going to be quite different in form to how it’s been in recent years.” Do read on. We’ll be previewing the Edinburgh TV Fest this time next week.

Oscars Up For Grabs In UK

Sky has limits: The UK Oscar coverage is up for grabs. I reported this week on Sky foregoing rights to the globe’s biggest movie awards ceremony after a 20-year stint and everything is now in play. Sky has been showing the coverage through the night across numerous channels but, mirroring U.S. ratings, audiences have been dwindling of late, with 35,000 tuning in live on the main Sky Cinema channel this year to watch Everything Everywhere’s triumphant night compared with nearly 60,000 in 2022. But it is hard to imagine these lucrative rights will remain on the shelf for long and we hear a deal with a new buyer is close. Stay tuned for more.

The Essentials

🌶️ Hot One: Netflix has greenlit a TV series about the tragic Corby poisonings with an ensemble cast.

🌶️ Another: Black Bear signed The White Lotus breakout Simona Tabasco.

🌶️ Third: Tatyana Rose Baptiste and Joshua Odjick have joined The Last of Us veteran Graham Greene in Sweet Summer Pow Wow, per Mel.

Festival latest: Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn will open the London Film Festival.

🚪🚶🏽‍♂️ Double exit: At Warner Bros. Discovery EMEA, where chief Priya Dogra and UK head Antonio Ruiz are both headed/heading for the door. The latter has been replaced by Andrew Georgiou; the former won’t be replaced.

🏬 Mega merger: Sony’s Indian TV operation and Zee were given the greenlight for their long-gestating $10B deal.

🎤 Got Talent: Ukrainian doc on Simon Cowell talent show in the works.

🌍 Global Breakout: Germany survival format 7 vs Wild was spotlighted by Jesse.

🖊️ Signed up: Kill Boksoon filmmaker Byun Sung-Hyun with Independent Artists Group, per Matt Grobar across the pond.

🖼️ Slate: Not content with Korean zombies, Netflix unveiled dating, comedy, and reality shows from Japan.

👚 Barbie: Kuwait the latest to ban the pic.

🤝 Done deals: By IMG, with more than 100 territories for the Saudi Pro League. Jesse’s prior analysis can be read here.

🍿 Box OfficeInsidious: The Red Door became the biggest global horror of the year to date.

🎥 Trail: For Showmax’s Outlaws, described as “South Africa’s first contemporary Western series.”

Jake Kanter contributed to this week’s International Insider.

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