ViacomCBS International Studios Inks Deal With Miramax to Co-Produce ‘The Turkish Detective’

ViacomCBS International Studios (VIS) June 24 announced an agreement with Miramax to co-produce “The Turkish Detective,” a series set in modern-day Istanbul based on the 21-novel series The Cetin Ikmen Crime Novels by Barbara Nadel. The deal marks the first co-production between ViacomCBS and subsidiary Miramax, which is jointly owned by beIN Media Group.

The Turkish Detective depicts the lead character Inspector Cetin Ikmen and his partner Mehmet Suleyman solving crimes and experiencing euphoric highs and tragic lows. Each crime story in the series is heavily rooted in the rich and varied culture and history of Istanbul and set against the vibrant, dazzling and frenzied world of modern-day Turkey.

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Barbara Nadel

Production will begin in Spring 2021 in Istanbul. Each episode will be 60-minutes, and the series will be developed as a global product that will be sold to third-party distributors.

“Miramax has a longstanding reputation for award-winning, creative productions. By partnering to produce ‘The Turkish Detective,’ VIS will continue to deliver on its commitment to create the best content for all platforms around the world,” Pierluigi Gazzolo, president of studios and streaming for ViacomCBS Networks International, said in a statement.

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Marc Helwig, head of worldwide television at Miramax, called author Barbara Nadel “a terrific writer,” whose page-turning novels combine “beautifully honed” storytelling with an authentic sense of place.

“I am thrilled that we are partnering with VIS to bring this hugely successful series to a global audience,” Helwig said.

The series was first announced at the MIPCOM market in Cannes, France last year as part of a larger announcement surrounding ViacomCBS International Studios U.K.’s move into scripted development.

ViacomCBS Closes Deal for 49% Ownership Stake in Miramax

ViacomCBS April 3 announced the closing of the previously announced deal for a 49% ownership stake in Miramax from beIN Media Group, which retains 51% majority ownership.

ViacomCBS, which owns and operates Paramount Pictures and Pluto TV, among other assets, plans to utilize the Miramax catalog (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Good Will Hunting, etc.) throughout its digital distribution channels. Miramax’s current leadership team will continue in their existing roles.

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ViacomCBS acquired the 49% stake for committed investment of $375 million. Approximately $150 million was paid at closing, while ViacomCBS has committed to invest $225 million — comprised of $45 million annually over the next five years — to be used for new film and television productions and working capital.

In addition, Paramount Pictures entered into an exclusive, long-term distribution agreement for Miramax’s content library; and an exclusive, long-term first-look agreement allowing Paramount Pictures to develop, produce, finance and distribute new film and television projects based on Miramax’s IP.

Miramax was founded in 1979 by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, and was a major independent movie distribution and production company before it was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 1993.

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Bob and Harvey Weinstein continued to operate Miramax until they left the company named after their mother, Miriam, in 2005, to start The Weinstein Company. That latter subsequently entering into a short-lived home entertainment distribution deal with Genius Products, headed by former Trump Administration official Steve Bannon.

In 2018, TWC and Genius settled a lawsuit with Weinstein paying now shuttered Genius Products a $2.5 million settlement.

ViacomCBS Acquires Stake in Miramax

ViacomCBS has reportedly acquired 49% stake in Miramax, the film studio founded in 1979 by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and owned and operated over the years by several corporate suitors — including Disney.

Qatar-based owner BeIN Media Group sold the stake for $375 million, according to Variety, which first reported the deal.

The deal gives ViacomCBS joint ownership of Miramax’s catalog of 700 movies, 278 Academy Award nominations and 68 Oscar-winning titles, including four Best Picture awards for Chicago, Shakespeare In Love, The English Patient and No Country For Old Men.

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beIN will retain a 51% stake in Miramax and the distributor’s current leadership team.

“This partnership … will be a unique opportunity to gain access to a valuable library, deepening our already substantial pool of IP at a time when demand for premium content is only accelerating,” Bob Bakish, CEO of ViacomCBS, said in a statement.

Indeed, expect Miramax titles to find their way onto ViacomCBS’ ad-supported Pluto TV service, as well other SVOD platforms CBS All Access and Showtime OTT, among others.

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Other well-known Miramax titles include Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, and Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, among others.

“We look forward to working closely with the Miramax management team as we explore new ways to deliver its titles across a variety of platforms and create new, compelling projects,” Bakish said.

Miramax content has been a steady supplier of home entertainment packaged media. Amazon says current bestselling Miramax DVDs include The Spy Kids Trilogy, Black X-Mas, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Smoke Signals and Rounders.

Starz Adds Former Netflix, Lionsgate Executives to Digital Networks Team

Lionsgate-owned Starz Sept. 5 announced the hiring of former Netflix executive Darren Nielson as SVP of distribution and business development at its international digital networks team led by EVP Superna Kalle.

Starz also named Jeff Cooke, ex-VP of global digital at Lionsgate, its new VP of programming at international digital networks.

Nielson, based in Lionsgate’s Santa Monica corporate office, will lead the distribution and business development for Starz’ digital and linear services and channels, working with Kalle to develop expansion strategies, identify and evaluate partner opportunities, and source and negotiate distribution agreements with in-territory partners.

Prior to joining Starz, Nielson served as director of content acquisition at Netflix. He was instrumental in building Netflix’s presence across Europe and Asia managing global licensing relationships with major studios and local partners across both film and TV content.

Cooke, also based in Santa Monica, will oversee programming for the international expansion of the Starz OTT subscription service to new global markets. He will be tasked to define and implement the content strategies across all international territories and identify key programming initiatives through data insights and analytics.

Cooke will curate content that defines the Starz brand in each region and capitalize on global trends and strategies. Cooke will continue to work with London-based Brett Marottoli, head of program acquisitions, to identify and acquire additional content for the StarzPlay platform.

Prior to Lionsgate, Cooke held positions at Miramax and MGM.

“Darren and Jeff bring a wealth of global acumen and skill to this international team at a time of significant growth for our company and our brand,” Kalle said in a statement. “I look forward to exploring new opportunities around the world for our content across digital and linear platforms with them on board.”