Telefonica, Fireworks forge ‘Swords’

Swashbuckler series is 4-way co-production

MADRID — In the first of what very well could be multiple deals, Spanish telco giant Telefonica has linked with Canuck producer Fireworks to co-finance an English-lingo TV series, “Queen of Swords.”

The period femme swashbuckler will be a four-way co-production among Telefonica subsid Telefonica Media, Spanish indie Morena Films, U.K.-based Amy Intl. Artists and Fireworks Entertainment.

Fireworks has been lead producer on several U.S. syndicated series, including “Highlander” and “Relic Hunter.” Rysher Entertainment, which was absorbed by Paramount last year, was a co-producer on these Fireworks projects; Paramount Domestic Television will handle U.S. syndication on the new “Queen” skein.

In a longer-term agreement, Telefonica Media will exercise a first-look option as a distributor or co-producer for Spain and Latin America on all TV series developed by Fireworks and Morena.

Telefonica Media sources did not rule out a closer relationship, where possible, with Paramount. The same sources also signaled that TM will soon co-produce Latino-themed movies with leading international companies, including top U.S. indies.

In a breakdown that could serve as a model for further deals, Telefonica Media will take Spain and Latin America rights on “Queen of Swords,” and Fireworks will handle international rights.

Budgeted at $20 million and set in early 19th century California, the one-hour series will be shot entirely in Almeria, Spain, starting May 3. French broadcaster M6 has already taken Gallic rights.

The English-lingo series is written by David Abramowitz, who will be the series’ showrunner. His credits include “Highlander.”

“Queen of Swords” is a coup for Spanish production house Morena, which now has established a long-term relationship with the much courted Telefonica Media.

Launched in September, Morena, run by partners Juan Gordon and Alvaro Longoria, is rapidly emerging as one of Spain’s most bullish producers. It’s already advancing on the production of three docus and several features.

(Elizabeth Guider in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)

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