Pics, TV inspire adaptations in Colombia

Spinoffs are traveling both ways on the film/TV highway in Colombia. The country’s biggest local blockbuster “Sonar no cuesta nada” (A Ton of Luck) is inspiring a 26-episode series, while top-rated telenovela “Sin tetas no hay paraiso” (Without Tits, There Is No Paradise) will hit the bigscreen.

CMO Prods., which made “Sonar,” is also producing the skein. “We are picking up where the film left off, using the same crew, director and cast with a few exceptions,” CMO exec producer Ana Pineres says.

The story is based on true events that began in May 2003 when some 140 soldiers stumbled upon a booty of $46 million stashed away in the jungle by Colombia’s infamous FARC guerrillas. Instead of returning it to the government, the soldiers went on a spending spree. Naturally they were caught, with some sentenced to jail.

To be titled “Regreso a la guaca” (Return to the Treasure), the skein follows the soldiers who go back to the jungle to seek a second treasure trove.

Web RCN, which also backed the 2006 pic, will air the skein in February and sell it on the international market. “No other film in Colombia has inspired a TV series,” Pineres points out.

On the flip side, a 28-episode skein produced and aired by RCN’s rival Caracol TV, will be compressed into a two-hour pic. “Sin tetas no hay paraiso” debuted in August 2006 with a 26.8 rating and a 40.2% aud share, and went on to become one of Colombia’s top-rated TV programs. It also threw the country into a tizzy for its subject matter and dialogue peppered with obscenities.

Based on investigative journalist Gustavo Bolivar’s eponymously titled debut novel, the story centers on the reality of young impoverished women in Colombia who get breast implants in order to please the drug dealers they sleep with in exchange for gifts and social status.

“These drug dealers use and discard women; they have no respect for them,” says Bolivar, whose book has sold a million copies worldwide.

Local TV versions are in various stages of development or production in Spain, Russia, Italy and Mexico. NBC is also developing an English-language remake for the U.S. Its Spanish-language web Telemundo is airing the U.S. Hispanic version, now its highest-rated 10 p.m. novela ever in both the Nielsens and NHTI (National Hispanic Television Index). Retitled to a less-vulgar “Sin senos, no hay paraiso,” (Without Breasts There Is No Paradise) the novela hit a peak aud of 1.2 million adults 18-49 on Sept. 11.

Bolivar predicts that his pic will be even more controversial, as it will feature a live real-time breast augmentation operation that lead actress, newcomer Isabel Cristina Cadavid has agreed to undergo. Shooting begins Sept. 29.

But Caracol, which recently formed a film company, has balked at co-producing the pic. “We’re ready to promote it via a barter deal, but its $2 million budget is too high for us,” Caracol Cine head Diana Bustamante says.

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