Movistar +: Rundown of Telefonica’s High-End Drama Slate

Telefonica's drive into original series is a milestone for Spain and for Europe, Variety drills down on its first slate high-end dramas

MADRID — Telefonica’s Movistar + bows two of its first series, “The Plague” and “Spanish Shame” at San Sebastián. That is one of the highlights of this year’s festival. But there are more series to come. Here’s a rundown of Movistar +’s original series plans, taking in seven greenlit series:

“VELVET COLLECTION”

Sold by Beta Film, a sequel to “Velvet,” a milestone in modern TV romantic melodrama, the series jumps from Madrid to Barcelona, exchanging the “Mad Men-ish” world of cinched waists for the Swinging ‘60s. Created by Ramón Campos and Gema R. Neira, produced by Teresa Fernández-Valdés, all at the Studiocanal co-owned Bambú, the 10-episode, 50-minute series world premiered Sept. 5 at Spain’s Vitoria FesTVal, then bowed on Movistar + on Sept. 22.

“THE ZONE”

Also on Beta Film’s books, and one of Mipcom’s featured International Screenings, a road movie-Western-crime thriller set in a no go zone after a nuclear accident trailing a cop (Eduard Fernández) with a deep sense of guilt investigating a brutal murder, Also produced by Koldo Zuazua’s Kowalski and Juan Moreno’s Feelgood Media. Expect a further dose of a hallmark mix of narrative tension and character/social concern from brothers Jorge and Alberto Sánchez-Cabezudo, creators of “Crematorium,” with “What Happened to Jorge Sanz?” the most admired to date of Spain’s pay TV series.

“SPANISH SHAME”

Mixing “Larry David” and “Louie” naturalism with Rafael Azcona-style black comedy, sitcom “Shame,” produced by Enrique López-Lavigne (“The Impossible,” “A Monster Calls”) and directed by Juan Cavestany and Alvaro Fernández-Armero, has thesp Javier Gutiérrez (“Marshland”) as a inept, pretentious, presumptuous, talentless wedding photographer whose sexism and racism might seem farcical id they weren’t, increasingly tragic. Bowed at late September’s San Sebastián Festival.

“THE PLAGUE”

The flagship of the first Movistar + original production era. Created by Alberto Rodríguez (“Marshland”), produced by José Antonio Félez at Atípica Films and written by Rafael Cobos, the six-part $12 million thriller, “The Plague” weighs in as most probably the biggest period piece in Spanish TV history. A trawl through Seville in 1580, it follows a serial killer investigation that lays bear a political-social context driving the crimes as well as certain home truths about human nature. Sold by Sky Vision, world premiered at San Sebastián Sept. 29.

“FELIX”

A mano a mano between audience-friendly auteur Cesc Gay (“Truman”) and thesp Leonardo Sbaraglia (“Wild Tales”), the eight-seg series turns on a man’s search for a young Asian girl who disappeares just before their second date. “A fish-out-of-water comedy thriller,” says Gay, “Felix” shot for 11 weeks in Andorra and eight in Barcelona, enough time for a director and an actor “to construct a role and interpretation, as in cinema,” Gay said.

“GIANTS”

Spanish thriller master Enrique Urbizu, the kind of multi-laureled accessible auteur which Movistar + has courted for its first series, returns with “Giants,” where “King Lear” meets Scorsese in a violent, tension-packed TV drama about the conflicts and internal struggles of a drug dealers’ family. Urbizu re-teams with “Box 507” and “No Rest for the Wicked” star José Coronado, this time to film in a multiplicity of locations in Madrid’s traditional Rastro district, shanty towns and periphery – unexplored to date in a TV drama. Sold by About Premium Content.

“MIRA LO QUE HAS HECHO”

A six-episode, 30-minute semi-autobiographical comedy co-created by Spanish late-night TV showman Berto Romero. An ironical, realistic and modern portrait of a contempo couple facing the challenges of parenthood produced by Barcelona’s El Terrat. Scheduled to premiere in February.

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