Christian Wikander, the well-respected Swedish executive who joined Banijay nine months ago as global head of scripted, will be stepping down from his role on Feb. 2. Speaking to Variety shortly after news broke of his upcoming exit, Wikander said he was “sad to be leaving” the company, but sees as as a “reflection of these times in the business.”
“We see these types of changes happening in the business, because we’ve gone from a very high position across many territories and we’re going through a time of correction that affects buyers and everyone involved,” Wikander told Variety.
The executive, who joined Banijay from HBO Max Nordic where he was commissioning editor and VP of original programming, said he doesn’t expect his role at Banijay to be replaced. Commenting on factors behind his exit, he said the business was tougher due to “changes in commissions and production volumes, as well as the timing from pitch to green light becoming longer.”
Wikander also spoke about the crisis hitting Scandinavian companies, such as the streamer Viaplay which have scaled down massively their output of original scripted content, while global streamers like Netflix have also reduced local commissions. “The Scandinavian industry will get through this difficult time because good storytelling will remain good.”
The executive, who will attend the Goteborg Film Festival later this month, isn’t yet thinking about his next career move but is keeping an optimistic outlook. “With every cloud comes with a silver lining!” he said. While at Banijay, he notably worked on the Spanish show “30 Coins,” produced by Pokeepsi, the Swedish limited crime series “A Nearly Normal Family,” from Jarowskij, and the U.K. mini-series “Three Little Birds,” from Tiger Aspect.
Banijay paid tribute to Wikander’s track record in its statement confirming his exit. “During his tenure, he has been integral to driving collaboration across the European studio’s 60+ scripted labels, while concentrating on building a team that is effective in strengthening the pipeline of new IP and returning, critically-acclaimed hits; exploring further format travel opportunities; and offering support in financing projects across the footprint. Through this period, the company at-large experienced significant growth in scripted driven by M&A and continued streamer investment, with a burgeoning pipeline in place for 2024. Following the departure and while the role is reviewed, the existing team will report to Chief Business Officer, Frédéric Balmary.”
Prior to working at HBO Nordics, Wikander was managing director for London-based Twelve Town, having joined in 2016 as head of drama for Europe.
Deadline was first to report Wikander’s exit from Banijay.