Hollywood Suite acquires HBO Max drama Valley of Tears

Valley of Tears
The film-focused specialty network is dipping its toe into premium TV, with president David Kines saying that more exclusive programming acquisitions will be forthcoming.

Film-focused specialty network Hollywood Suite is dipping its toe into premium TV with its acquisition of the HBO Max original series Valley of Tears.

The 10-part Israeli war drama, which is billed as the biggest-budgeted Israeli drama of all time, will premiere on Hollywood Suite on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 9 p.m.

The deal represents the biggest ever acquisition for nine-year-old Hollywood Suite, president David Kines told Playback Daily. The independent network had previously licensed two other series, U.S. series Prime Suspect and Shaftesbury-produced Slasher, but this latest acquisition is intended as the first in a string of exclusive programming acquisitions for the Canadian market.

It should be noted that while Bell Media has a long-term deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution for the exclusive rights to HBO Max programming, the deal does not cover every single HBO Max original. Valley of Tears falls outside of this deal. “HBO Max in the U.S. has purchased a number of titles from third party distributors, and as a result, not every HBO Max title is part of our output deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution. However, we always pursue much of this third-party programming – like HBO Max’s Love Life – when it’s a good fit for Crave audiences,” said a Bell Media spokesperson.

While Hollywood Suite intends to stick to its bread and butter – classic movies from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s – Kines added that the glut of premium TV drama being made internationally has created new acquisition opportunities for smaller players in the Canadian market.

“There’s a record-breaking amount of drama being produced around the world, and there’s not enough room for it on all the channels. We saw it as an opportunity to get into this space,” he said.

The Israeli-language series is an HBO Max Original co-produced with WestEnd Films, United King and Endemol Israel. It was broadcast first on the Israeli broadcaster KAN and is currently streaming on HBO Max in the U.S.

Another reason the series was attractive to Hollywood Suite, said Kines, is the growing popularity of foreign-language dramas in the North American market. “There’s an appetite for foreign-language programming, as evidenced by things like My Beautiful Friend, Money Heist and Tehran. There’s lots of shows that people are consuming that aren’t necessarily English-language Hollywood dramas,” he said.

The move toward acquiring bigger-budgeted TV series comes as Hollywood Suite also branches into original content. Its in-house production banner Sruki Films produced the doc Raising the Dead: Re-examining Night of the Living Dead, which debuted in May. The specialty broadcaster’s first original project, Ferris’s Room, premiered in 2018.