For months, murmurs of a new French buyer and millennial distribution platform have been circulating the industry. Called BlackPills, the mobile-first, short form video distributor is headed by former Canal Plus SVP Patrick Holzer and Daniel Marhely, the founder of music-streaming site Deezer, and backed by French billionaire and entrepreneur Xavier Niel.
Characteristic with the other buyer-distributors in the space currently, Black Pills is dishing out sizeable upfront production deals — upwards of $50 million to spend on formats, for a slate of 50+ shows in year one. At $1 million per series, for 10 episode-runs that range between 5 and 10 minutes, producers getting deals with Black Pills are looking at budgets of $100,000 per episode and around $25,000 per minute, closing in on lower end TV budgets.
And over the last month, Black Pills has started to roll out its first series, cryptically, on YouTube and Facebook — “You Got Trumped”.
According to Black Pills deck, their content direction is towing a similar line HBO did when it began producing original series — edgy, controversial, racy.
The company is reportedly in deal discussions with many of the usual suspects including New Form Digital, INE Entertainment, Fox Digital, Legendary, and Machinima, among others. Black Pills also recently announced new series “A Girl is a Gun” with Denise Richards, Nikki Leigh, and Charlotte McKinney, attached.
It’s also locked a deal with writer Luc Besson (“Lucy”), pictured, for “Killer’s School,” a premium mobile-native scripted series about teens who turn into killers. They are also in talks with other major Hollywood off-screen talent.
However, various industry insiders tell VideoInk that the deal structures Black Pills has proposed are highly unfavorable for producers.
“If deals that go90 did were considered a little too producer-friendly, these guys are going hard the other way, with deal points that make it difficult to even consider doing a deal with them,” said one executive.
As a refresher, many of go90’s early deals were bloated upfront fees with a year of exclusivity for domestic distribution, at which point the IP rights returned to the production company. Global rights were fair play for producers from day one. On the opposite hand, executives in discussions with Black Pills corroborate that the company is asking for global distribution rights in perpetuity, with an upfront production budget. By those terms, it’s unlikely that any talented above or below the line talent would ever sign away full rights.
Black Pills is expected to launch officially in January as a mobile-first streaming destination.