The Downside of Co-Productions

The international co-production is becoming a bigger part of movies than at any time probably since the early ’70s, and as previously discussed here, it’s become a major part of Canadian television. But one of downsides of taking on an international partner for a TV show is that if the show is a failure in one country, it could be canceled despite being a success in another country. Bill Brioux says that this is what happened to Combat Hospital, a show produced by Global in partnership with ABC in the U.S. It did well in Canada, but not in the States, and “evidently no major U.S. partner stepped in after ABC walked to help defray the costs of a second season.” Of course, without this kind of partnership, a show like that would be too expensive to make, so this doesn’t mean that it would be better to produce them alone; it’s often not really an option. It just seems to be a fact of life that high viewership isn’t enough to make a show a success; it has to be successful in multiple markets, so that multiple partners can defray its cost. It works the other way too, of course: several U.S. shows this year were sold to international markets and look to do quite well there, like Pan Am, but that’s not enough if the show isn’t successful on its home network.

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