TV harbors Spanish film business

Roday y Rodar launches TV unit in January

MADRID — Spain’s piracy-crunched film industry is sheltering in a safer haven — TV production.

The latest to make such a move: Roday y Rodar, producer of “The Orphanage,” at $32.1 million Spain’s biggest hometurf grosser in seven years, will open a smallscreen division, Rodar y Rodar TV, launching January.

Its first production, two-part miniseries, “An Eye for an Eye,” rolls Jan. 12.

Directed by Rodar partner Mar Targarona, and co-produced by pubcasters TV3 and TVE, “Eye’s” set in 1919-21 Barcelona, as violence rages between police-backed employers and anarchist trade unions.

Rodar y Rodar TV has other event miniseries projects: “El desastre de Anual,”  about Spain’s crushing 1921 defeat in Morocco; “Nido de espias” (Nest of Spies), set  in World War II Barcelona; and 18th century bio “Ali Bey,” about a real-life spy to King Carlos IV who converted to Islam. 

Banner’s also developing series and TV formats, says Rodar producer Joaquin Padro.

Rodar will still produce movies, unlike some others. In September, Galician regional giant Voz Audiovisual, having originated high-end movie projects, such as double-agent thriller “Garbo,” announced it’s ending movie production.

Broadcasters TVE and Antena 3 TV are plowing into miniseries production.

Under fiscal pressure, Spanish broadcasters are thinking twice these days about any production. But, comprising two TV movies, these minis fulfill obligatory Spanish TV quotas, obliging webs to invest 5% of annual revenues in European films. 

They also supply fresh first-run fiction.

“Films don’t have to follow the classic model of theatrical exhibition,” TVE director Javier Pons declared at last month’s Valladolid Festival, announcing TVE would co-produce five primetime TV movie miniseries. 

Moreover, for the first time since the 1960s, when TVE pioneered quality TV production on culture channel La 2, TV production, inspired by U.S. dramas, seems genuinely exciting.

“There’s a freshness about storytelling in TV production that you won’t find in film,” enthuses producer Manuel Cristobal at Perro Verde Films. Spanish broadcasters’ plunging audience shares, because of market fragmentation, mean that not all TV series have to appeal to the whole family. A lot of people are talking abut a new revolution in Spanish TV production.”

Withered by online piracy, Spainhas the weakest major film market in Europe. Admissions plunged 20% to 116.9 million from 2001 to 2007. 

Young Spanish auds seem indifferent, if not downright hostile, to homegrown movies. With very few exceptions, Spanish films have to be real events pics to register at the local B.O.

TV production financing, in contrast, takes time, but is thankfully simple. Also, it guarantees producer profits — 5% of a show’s budget — and covers some general producer costs.

“Spanish TV series are rarely historical,” Targarona says. “We hope we’re at the start of something.”

Emilio Mayorga contributed to this report.

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