MADRID — Aligning two of the most ambitious TV drama producers in the Spanish-speaking world, Spain’s Mediapro Group and Argentina’s Oficina Burman have struck a strategic co-development deal for high-end fiction TV series and formats aimed squarely at international markets.
Under the deal, Mediapro, a producer with Sky, HBO and Canal Plus of Jude Law starrer “The Young Pope,” and Oficina Burman, which is set to produce Netflix’s first original series in Argentina, will join forces to co-develop a minimum of three TV series in a first year of collaboration, said Javier Mendez, Mediapro head of contents.
Mediapro will cover co-development costs with the right to produce series that come out of the co-development deal, he added. Mendez is scheduled to travel to Buenos Aires, where Oficina Burman is based, on Wednesday to advance on the first potential co-development slate.
The deal coincides with the inauguration of Mediapro’s new offices in Argentina. It comes as the battle heats up for the writing and show-running talent needed to produce the best high-end TV drama.
Launched in 2014 by Daniel Burman, a leading light of the New Argentine Cinema (“The Lost Embrace,” “El rey del Once”), Oficina Burman made waves at January’s Natpe, announcing with Brazil’s Grupo Globo that the two companies would jointly produce “Supermax,” Globo’s first Spanish-language production to be made out of its Rio studios. It is now in post-production.
Burman’s biggest achievement has been to focus Oficina Burman’s operations on the creation and development of original stories, launching a writing room headed by the company’s contents head, Mario Segade.
“Daniel Burman is a magnificent director and a great person, with a large capacity to identify creative talent and lead teams, as is suggested by the series he made with Globo and his deal with Netflix,” said Mendez.
What Oficina Burman lacked was international reach.
“Oficina Burman has grown hugely from its creation two years ago, but it lacked a partner in Spain which, as a Spanish-language contents company, is fundamental,” Burman said.
“Nowadays, companies and projects need framework alliances in both creative and production terms. Exclusivities and limitation are no longer possible. That is a paradigm change,” Burman added, commenting that the two companies could bring in third-party partners on projects.
Partnered with Mexico’s Televisa, ad media giant WPP and investor Torreal, Mediapro owns a 7% stake in Spanish broadcast giant Atresmedia Group. Their joint conglom, in which Mediapro holds a controlling 48% participation, posted revenues of €1.509 billion ($1.7 billion) in 2015, per company sources.
Mediapro is teaming with the Qatar-based beIN Media Group on sports-rights brokering operations across the world. For its production of feature films, however, it has placed a large emphasis on linking up with auteurs, including Woody Allen, for whom it co-produced three titles, including “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” and Spanish talents Isabel Coixet (“Nobody Wants the Night”) and Fernando Leon (“A Perfect Day”).
Its pact with Oficina Burman puts Mediapro together with arguably the highest-profile of Latin America’s new generation of show-runners, who make series in limited-episode international formats. “Supermax” comes in at just 10 episodes. “Edha,” set to roll early next year, is a 13-part series.
The Mediapro-Oficina Burman deal also comes as both companies attract key talent to build their drama development operations.
For Mediapro, the pact kicks in just weeks after Ran Telem, a Primetime Emmy Award-winning producer on “Homeland,” joined Mediapro. The longtime V.P. of programming and content at Israel’s Keshet Broadcasting has been appointed to the newly created post of head of international content development.
Oficina Burman will establish a writing room in Spain, headed by young Spanish screenwriter-director Clara Roquet to advance the joint development of projects with Mediapro, Burman said. Roquet broke through co-writing Carlos Marques-Marcet’s “10,000 KM,” a best acting winner at 2014’s South by South West. She recently teamed with Burman to adapt Spanish-language international bestseller “This Too Shall Pass” into a feature film.
In Argentina, Mediapro already owns PromTV, a services company for ESPN. Argentina’s Mediapro has also produced local versions of “Survivor” and “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?”