×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mediaset Espana, Beta Partnering on ‘Alatriste’ TV Spinoff

TV series adds to Europe’s historical flagship fiction shows

MADRID – Adding to Europe’s appetite for big historical TV series, Spanish commercial broadcasting group Mediaset Espana is linking with Germany’s Beta to produce a 13-seg series spin-off from “Alatriste,” a 2006 smash-hit movie in Spain that starred Viggo Mortensen.

Mediaset Espana CEO Paolo Vasile and Beta CEO Jan Mojto inked a deal Friday in Rome that sees Mediaset Espana contribute two-thirds of financing while Beta provides the rest.

Mediaset Espana takes rights to Spain, Beta those for Germany, Austria and France, selling the rest of the world and sharing revenues with Mediaset Espana.

Inspired by Arturo Perez Reverte’s bestsellers, the Spanish-language adventure skein is set between 1622 and 1643 in Madrid and the Netherlands where Spain battles to hang on to its empire in Flanders. Plot turns on the eponymous Alatriste, a courageous but jaundiced Spanish soldier forced to survive as a mercenary.

TV star Aitor Luna (“Gran reserva”) will play Alatriste. Helmer Enrique Urbizu, set to direct “Silver or Lead” for Relativity Media, will shepherd the first episode while TV vet Jose Manuel Lorenzo’s Madrid-based DLO will produce.

“Alatriste” “is a valiant experiment in costs and (international) reach,” Vasile said in Rome.

The budget has not been revealed but costs are dropping in Spain as producers vie to compete for fewer projects. This means “Alatriste’s” price, which Vasile described as “correct for a product of this scale,” is likely to be significantly less than the reported $39 million for the second season of “Borgia,” co-financed and sold by Beta.

Even though Mediaset Espana is Spain’s most profitable broadcaster, it could not afford to finance the skein on its own.

The recession hit TV advertising at the group with annual earnings plunging 55% to €50.1 million ($65.5 million) in 2012. Spain’s TV ad market shrunk a further 15% year-on-year in the first two months of 2013.

In such a negative scenario, the Beta partnership shares cost, reduces risk and reaches out to far richer international markets that have a seemingly insatiable appetite TV historical and fantasy fare.

“Alatriste” fulfills Europe’s hardly new aim of providing an alternative to U.S. product, Mojto commented in Rome.

With original TV series increasingly driving subscriptions at Europe’s pay TV giants BSkyB in the U.K. and Canal Plus in France and also offering potential upside to crisis-strapped broadcasters in southern Europe, more and more players want to get in on Europe’s bigger-budget historical fiction boom.

More TV

  • Black Panther

    'Black Panther,' 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Westworld' Among Costume Designers Guild Winners

    “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” walked away with top honors at the 21st annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Tuesday night, the final industry guild show before the Oscars on Feb. 24. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” are up for the Oscar this year, along with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Mary Poppins [...]

  • Syfy Cancels 'Nightflyers' After One Season

    Syfy Cancels 'Nightflyers' After One Season

    The George R.R. Martin drama “Nightflyers” has been canceled by Syfy after only one season. Based on the novella from the mastermind behind “Game of Thrones,” the show was seen as a big gamble for the NBCUniversal-owned cable network, as it represented the most expensive series it had ever developed. The network attempted to spark [...]

  • Batwoman Arrow

    The CW's 'Batwoman' Pilot Switches Directors, Adds Dougray Scott

    The CW has added veteran Scottish actor Dougray Scott to its “Batwoman” pilot as well as swapped in Marcos Siega for previous director David Nutter, Variety has learned. The pilot, which stars Ruby Rose as the eponymous caped heroine, is being helmed by DC TV head Greg Berlanti, and was penned by “Vampire Diaries” alum [...]

  • OG Review

    Review: 'O.G.' on HBO

    Jeffrey Wright, the most compelling reason to watch HBO’s new film “O.G.,” is among television’s best actors at switching between codes or manners of being. On “Westworld,” his timeline-toggling android swaps personae so delicately that his performance gains in resonance when recalled in retrospect. (Perhaps that’s why Wright has been so oddly underrated through the [...]

  • Nahnatchka Khan Writers Room

    Nahnatchka Khan Exits 20th Century Fox TV for Overall Deal at Universal

    Nahnatchka Khan has signed a four-year overall deal at Universal Television. The deal brings an end to the decade-plus Khan and her Fierce Baby Productions banner spent at 20th Century Fox Television. The move will see Khan exit from her role as showrunner on ABC comedy “Fresh Off the Boat,” which she also created. The [...]

  • David Ajala

    'Nightflyers' Star David Ajala Joins CBS Drama Pilot 'Under the Bridge'

    David Ajala has been cast in a lead role in the CBS drama pilot “Under the Bridge,” Variety has learned. In the project, when a scandal rocks the medical practice she runs with her husband and their friends, a surgeon rises to the occasion and takes the lead in trying to mend both the practice and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content