ZDF Studios’ value proposition to the market has become much clearer, according to Dr. Markus Schäfer, president and CEO. “ZDF Studios is a fully integrated media group, from creation to production and exploitation,” he says. “In this regard, we see ourselves in the same bracket as other studios. We are not just a distribution business, which is our heritage, but we really cover the full value chain and appeal to a much broader range of partners in the international market.”
The ZDF Studios group consists of a multitude of companies across three business areas: production, distribution and services. “We cover all major genres, from documentary to entertainment and scripted,” Schäfer adds. “We are a multi-site group with premises all across Germany, and we also have footprints in the Netherlands and the U.K. Last but not least, our shareholder, ZDF, is one of Europe’s largest broadcasters.”
Regarding its offering for the international market, Schäfer outlines: “innovative, outstanding, high-quality programs.” He adds, “If you’ve got outstanding programs, you can attract excellent talent, which everybody wants to do in the market. We think we are a great place for talent to work, and we want to show that to the markets, be it here in Germany or elsewhere in the world. We value talent very highly and offer an inspiring creative environment with a huge amount of freedom for new and fresh ideas.”
As the company gears up for MIPCOM, it’s touting scripted highlights such as the surveillance drama Concordia, produced by Beta Film’s and ZDF Studios’ joint venture, Intaglio Films. The World Premiere Screening will take place on Tuesday, October 17, at 6 p.m. in the Grand Auditorium of the Palais des Festivals and is open to all market delegates. The premiere will be followed by a Q&A with Emmy Award-winning showrunner and executive producer Frank Doelger (Game of Thrones, The Swarm, John Adams, Rome) and cast members, including International Emmy Award winner Christiane Paul (Counterpart, In July) and Ruth Bradley (Ted Lasso, Humans). The six-parter—produced for ZDF, France Télévisions, Hulu Japan and MBC—is shot in English across various European locations. It is jointly distributed globally by Beta Film and ZDF Studios, following their collaboration on the hit series The Swarm.
Regarding factual highlights, Namibia’s Natural Wonders marks the latest not-to-be-missed wildlife and nature documentary from ZDF Studios. The two-part doc is produced by ZDF Studios’ affiliated company Doclights in association with ORF and ARTE.
There are five new episodes in Mega Building Collection, produced by Pernel Media in association with RMC Découverte and ZDF Studios. The series offers insights into groundbreaking achievements in technology and engineering.
There’s a new season of Ancient Apocalypse, produced by World Media Rights for ZDF Studios and ZDFinfo, providing insights into the downfall of some of history’s greatest empires.
As for highlights for young audiences, there’s a bevy of new offerings. “Both live action and animation are always timeless in kids’ programming, and our catalog is full of popular shows in both genres,” Schäfer says.
At MIPJunior, ZDF Studios is unveiling the animated preschool series Sam and Julia, produced in real-time animated 3D with stop-motion style by Cielo Films and Superswiss Red in co-production with ZDF, ZDF Studios, France Télévisions, Caribara and Mark 13.
The company will also launch season two of its live-action series Theodosia with an additional 26 episodes, produced by Cottonwood Media and co-production partners ZDF, ZDF Studios, Max and Globo.
Tobie Lolness, a brand-new animation from Tant Mieux Productions based on the novel by Timothée de Fombelle (which has sold over 1,000,000 copies and was published in 30 countries), is also being launched. Schäfer calls it a “coming-of-age story of adventure, heroism, friendship and survival, with a powerful environmental message, set in a miniature world. We are convinced that our loveable animation will be just as successful as the book.”
All of these new highlights “are excellent examples of the great quality that can be achieved when experts and talents from different countries join forces to create something together that will work internationally,” Schäfer adds.
“We have also made very good progress in building new businesses alongside our B2B business with broadcasters and streamers. We now have strong and growing B2C or B2B2C businesses, which deliver a constantly growing contribution to our overall revenue mix. Looking ahead, we believe we will become an even more interesting partner in the international market for both sides of the business, for buyers as well as creative and production partners.”
Schäfer notes that at this MIPCOM, “the ubiquitous topic of artificial intelligence will also be relevant for us. Thus, in addition to our classic topics of purchasing, sales and co-production, we cordially invite everybody with good ideas to talk to us at ZDF Studios or to our production companies about investments and distribution. So, let’s get in touch!”
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