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Movistar Series To Bow ‘The Returned,’ ‘Braquo’

Telefonica SVOD service broadens out to continental Europe

MADRID – Emphasizing the still exploding appetite for topnotch drama worldwide, Movistar Series, the new Spanish subscription-based VOD service launched in December by Telefonica, has acquired rights to arguably the two most talked-up French series this decade: “Braquo” and “The Returned” (Les Revenants).

Both are exclusive to Movistar Series and premieres for Spain. Zodiak Rights and Movistar TV, the TV arm of Telefonica, struck the deal.

Two milestones in the drive by Gallic paybox giant Canal Plus France into original series production — a significant sub-driver and churn deterrent and source of shows that have sold in much of the world – “Braquo” and “The Returned” also mark the second and third French series (after “the Tunnel”) acquired by Movistar TV for Movistar Series, an HD SVOD-only series that now offers nearly 40 skeins to Movistar clients.

“Our strategy isn’t just to offer the best U.S. series, but the best from the world,” Domingo Corral, Telefonica contents director, told Variety, citing the example of Argentine Oscar-winning Juan Jose Campanella’s Telefe-aired “El hombre de tu vida” and Carlos Moreno’s “Escobar, El patron del Mal,“ from Colombia’s Caracol TV, both on Movistar Series.

“The Returned” will bow its first complete season in May, its second before year-end 2015. “Braquo’s” first three seasons will be made available in June, the fourth and last in early 2016.

“Braquo” belongs to France’s hallowed tradition of procedurals. Gritty and violent, it also took France’s cop drama clearly into cable TV territory. Created by Gallic movie director Olivier Marchal (“36,” “Gang Story”), as French film talent began to cross over to pay TV gigs starting late last decade, produced by Capa Drama and aired starting on Oct. 12, 2009, on France’s Canal Plus, “Braquo” was sold to 90 territories by Zodiak rights, including high-profile deals with Fox for the U.K. and Italy and Foxtel for Australia. Centering on four cops who put expedience above the rule book, co-written by Abdel Raouf Dafri, who co-penned “A Prophet” with Jacques Audiard, “Braquo” won a TV France Intl. (TVFI) export prize in 2011 and a best drama series Intl. Emmy in 2012. It is also available on Hulu.

Inspired by Robin Campillo’s 2004 feature film “They Came Back,” “The Returned” leapt back into the international spotlight after A&E bowed a U.S. remake of the same name on March 9, just days after Netflix announced it had picked up the U.S. remake for global distribution.

The original French version of “The Returned” (“Les Revenants”) bowed on the Sundance Channel in October 2013, then won that year’s drama series Intl. Emmy. Created by Fabrice Gobert, and produced like the movie by Haut Et Court, one of France’s most prestigious film-TV production houses, the supernatural mystery drama — in which people suddenly return from the dead to their French Alps village, looking for the most part completely normal —  has proved a game-changing series in terms of an impact for an original series made in a foreign-language. Widely sold abroad and critically praised – Variety’s Brian Lowry called it “brainy, bizarre, yet strangely hypnotic” on its Sundance Channel bow  — “The Returned” became, for example, the first fully subtitled skein broadcast on the U.K.’s Channel 4 in more than 20 years.

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