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Beta Scores Multi-Title Deals in the U.S., Latin America (EXCLUSIVE)

John Hopewell and Jamie Lang

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MADRID  — Ahead of next week’s NATPE market in Miami, Beta, one of the biggest independent TV-film powerhouses in Europe, has confirmed a swathe of sales on its U.S. TV movie productions and high-end spin-off series “Gomorrah: The Immortal.”

The sales flag Beta’s diversified production-distribution model, and the continuing appetite for TV movies in the U.S., led by Lifetime and Hallmark channels, as the demand for movies of all type rises in a new streaming platform era.

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In banner sales, A & E has acquired a bevy of U.S. TV thrillers for Lifetime, among them “Fatal Friend Request,” starring Sarah Lind (“True Justice”) and Bree Williamson (“Private Eyes”), produced by Cartel, “Purity Falls” by Stargazer, with Krisanna Loken (“Burn Notice2) and Trevor Stines (“Riverdale”) and a trio of Ninth House-productions: “Perfect Party Planner,” toplining Lindsey McKeon (“Supernatural”), “Bridal Nightmare” with Karissa Lee Staples (“S.W.A.T.”) and Mark Hapka (“Ghost Whisperer”) and “Almost Perfect,” starring Sunny Mabrey (“Teleios”) and Susie Abromeit (“Jessica Jones”).

Beta Film has signed deals with Lifetime for the Johnson Production House thrillers “My Daughter’s Ransom,” “A Bride’s Revenge,” and “Woman on the Brink.”

In further deal announcements, Mexico’s MVS acquired both “Fatal Friend Request” and “My Daughter’s Ransom” for Latin America, with NBC Universal closing Latin American deals on “A Christmas Star” and “Entertaining Christmas.”

Further titles are being negotiated, including advanced negotiations in the U.S. for Canadian series “Hudson & Rex,” based on the original European format “Rex, a Cop’s Best Friend.” A new season featuring protagonist Charlie Hudson and his K9 companion Rex is currently being prepared to shoot in Newfoundland.

Finally, Cattleya and Sky Italia’s aforementioned “The Immortal,” a two-hour spinoff of global phenomenon “Gomorrah,” is also in advanced talks for distribution in the U.S. The special had a successful theatrical run in Italy over the holiday period and focuses on a young Ciro di Marzio surviving in Naples criminal underworld. Shooting on “Gomorrah” Season 5 will take place later this year.

According to Oliver Bachert, Beta Film EVP international sales and acquisitions, Beta originally acquired international rights on U.S. TV movies from around 2000, gap-financing titles, but from about three-to-four years ago, has begun to co-develop and co-finance titles, taking North American domestic distribution as well.

He explained that sales of TV movies in the U.S. remains “quite successful, it’s a very solid process… though you might need an Oscar-Nominated screenwriter to get the title off the ground.”

Bachert pointed out that after consistent growth, the company currently puts out between 15-20 titles a year. “And starting 3-4 years ago, we also took a new role as more of an international partner.”

“There is a pool of high-end serialized drama that’s a bit darker and found primarily on platforms or other premium broadcasters,” he elaborated. “We feel there’s a need for these types of [TV movie] projects in the market because they not only fill the schedule, but they also draw more causal viewing targets to the broadcast.”

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