Independence key to Cineflix’s post-pandemic production plans

Nearing its twentieth year in business, Cineflix Rights is one of the most established distributors in the international market. The company is best known for its work in factual but has been steadily building its scripted slate around shows such as ITV and Netflix’s Marcella, and has this year launched series such as Icelandic political drama The Minister.

“We have an unscripted heritage but the speed of growth and value of scripted allows us to balance that in the medium term,” says Chris Bonney, chief executive of rights at Cineflix Media.

He describes the business as the UK’s largest independent distributor with “a sweet spot in terms of size and scale” that gives it leverage and reputational clout with broadcasters and other buyers and provides “a nimbleness” for the producers whose content it represents.

As a UK-based subsidiary of the Canada-based Cineflix, Bonney’s team handles a catalogue that includes a strong pipeline of in-house shows and third-party acquisitions, which are led by former ITV exec Richard Life.

“Being independent with scale is unusual in the market,” says Bonney, adding that being an integrated producer-distributor means the company has “the ability to plan long-term, have a platform of revenue and income and think strategically”.

Additionally, the limited nature of the Canadian content market, along with Canada’s strong production tax incentives, means Cineflix Rights is part of a company that is “inherently international”, says Bonney.

In general, Cineflix Rights looks to invest in programmes at an early stage, a strategy that reassures producers that the distributor believes in the project while simultaneously securing international distribution rights early on in proceedings. “Trust and comfort is the key starting point,” says Bonney.

Lockdown has meant the company has had to respond creatively to market the slate of shows, first launched at the London Screenings in February, that would have received significant pushes at the subsequently cancelled Mip TV in April.

To that end, Cineflix Rights can claim to be the first distributor to have held an ‘e-premiere’ for one of its shows, when it debuted The Minister to buyers through a digital event that included a Q&A with producers and acting talent.

The company is now working up a ‘how to’ production featurette to sit adjacent to a new coastguard-themed ob-doc series as a sales tool, as the company shifts towards a distribution strategy of releasing content throughout the year and away from the traditional focus on content markets.

“We’re just keeping it fresh when you can’t see people face to face,” says Bonney.

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