San Sebastian: Disney, Telefonica Pact Movistar Plus ‘Star Wars’ Channel

Channel kick in over two weekends late September, then in run up to Dec. 18 bow of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Simon Anselem The WAly Disney Company
Courtesy of The Walt Disney Company Iberia/Movistar Plus

SAN SEBASTIAN – Adding to the roster of novel initiatives warming up the world for the bow of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” The Walt Disney Company Iberia and giant telco Telefonica have pacted to create a Movistar Plus “Star Wars” channel for Spain.

The pay TV service will kick in over two weekends late September, temporarily replacing the Canal Plus DCine service, and showing the first six movies in the franchise.

In the 15-day run up to the Dec. 18 Spain bow of J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” a pop-up channel channel will air on Movistar Plus’ pay TV platform, broadcasting the films, documentaries, extras and Movistar’s own productions. Content will be available on VOD and for smartphones and tablets.

Movistar Plus will screen “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” some months after its theatrical release. Disney and Telefonica will also launch events and other joint promotional initiatives for Movistar Plus clients, said Simon Anselem, country manager, Walt Disney Company Spain and Portugal.

“Force Awakens” will air later on free-to-air broadcast group Mediaset España.

But “Movistar Plus will be the service where most Star Wars contents will be seen in Spain,” he added.

The Dosney pact is a sign of Telefonica’s ambition to be a pay TV leader in Spain as well as Latin America, playing in this case of the most powerful franchise in movie history, a press statement said Saturday.

Movistar Plus is obliged by Spanish anti-trust laws to make studio movies available for purchase by rival pay TV operators in Spain. That does not mean, however, that other operators buy everything, said Ignacio Fernandez-Vega, Movistar Plus director general, said in San Sebastian.

Independent product and Telefonica’s ramping-up roster of productions and co-productions are excluded from this obligation.

Disney-Telefonica’s Star Wars channel will also be exclusive to Movistar Plus, Fernandez-Vega added.

The San Sebastian Festival served as a reminder of just how quickly Telefonica Studios, Telefonica’s film and TV production arm and an increasingly important Movistar Plus supplier, has moved to co-produce some of the key content – here movies – coming out of the Spanish-speaking world.

Movistar Plus is unspooling five movies at San Sebastian: Alejandro Amenabar’s satanic rites psychological thriller fest opener “Regression,” with Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson, Alex de la Iglesia’s dark TV studio-set comedy “My Big Night,” playing out of competition, Nacho G. Velilla’s Germany-set Spanish immigration comedy “Perdiendo el Norte,” the biggest Spanish box office hit this year in Spain, Pablo Trapero’s Venice best director winner “The Clan,” which has grossed a first three-week $13 million in Argentina, an all-time record for an Argentine movie, and Santiago Mitre’s Cannes 2015 Critics’ Week winner “Paulina.”