Telefonica Studios Raises Ante

Multiple project investment reflects telco Telefonica’s contents drive

SAN SEBASTIAN – One year-old almost to the day, Telefonica Studios is getting “bigger, bolder, has boarded Cesc Gay’s “Truman” and is in final negotiations to invest in a clutch of new high-profile projects in Spain,” Axel Kuschevatzky, Telefonica Studios head, said at San Sebastian.

Starring Argentina’s Ricardo Darin (“The Secret in Their Eyes”) and Spain’s Javier Camara (“Talk to Her,” Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed), lead-produced by Gay’s regular producer, Marta Esteban’s Barcelona-based Imposible Films, and sold by Filmax Intl., “Truman” turns on two childhood friends who are reunited after many years as one lies dying.

Telefe, the Telefonica-owned top Argentine broadcaster, has made a minority participation in the movie. “It’s a brilliant screenplay offering Ricardo the role of a lifetime,” Kuschevatzky said.

AtSan Sebastian with Argentine B.O. phenom “Wild Tales,” anther Telefe co-production, Telefonica Studios is also closing on “Anacleto: Secret Agent,” helmed by Javier Ruiz Pradera, whose teen comedy “Ghost Promotion” was a Fox pick-up for North and Latin America, and set up at Spain Zeta Cinema, which co-produced “Zip & Zap,” the highest-grossing majority Spanish title of 2013, punching €6.9 million in Spain, and is fast emerging as Spain’s premier children filmed entertainment producer.

An espionage action-comedy starring Imanol Arias, one of Spain’s biggest TV stars, “Anacleto” adapts Manuel Vazquez’s Zeta-owned classic Spanish comic book series.

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Both skedded for an August 2015 release, Alejandro Amenabar’s “Regression,” a TWC-Dimension U.S. release co-produced by Mod Producciones, and Enrique Gato’s adventure toon pic “Capture the Flag” – which Paramount Studios acquired worldwide – count among Telefonica Studios biggest investments to date.

It also co-produces “Welcome to Harmony,” produced by Spain’s Vaca Films and Jaume Collet-Serra’s L.A. based Ombra Pictures, helmed by Miguel Angel Vivas (“Kidnapped”) and “a warm-hearted zombie film, if that isn’t an oxymoron,”· said.

Following giant Spainsh telco Telefonica’s creation of a new Global Video Unit, housing a Content Unit, headed by Luis Blasco and run by Luis Velo, the jury is out as to how Telefonica will exactly channel its obligation in Spain’s to plough 6% of TV revenues in local film and TV.

Telefonica’s content commitment cannot be doubted, however, said Kuschevatzky.

Telefonica acquired a majority stake Spanish paybox Canal Plus earlier this year.

“We’re here to stay. Telefonica has a deep belief in content as a main growth driver,” Kuschevatzky said. Coming out as a film and TV investment force last year at San Sebastian, Telefonica Studios promised to invest in 25 movies over three years. It has already boarded 19, per Kuschevatzky.

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