Mip TV: Imagina Takes ‘Locked Up,’ ‘Royal Hospital’ (EXCLUSIVE)

High-quality drama imports help prime creativity in Spain

MADRID – Gearing up for next week’s Mip TV, Imagina Intl. Sales, Spain’s foremost TV fiction sales company, has acquired international sales rights to woman’s prison survival drama-thriller “Locked Up,” the latest series from Globomedia, the biggest and most-established of Spain’s premier TV production powerhouses.

A future high-profile prime time drama on Antena 3, one of Spain’s two most-watched channels, “Locked Up” turns on a young woman, Macarena (Maggie Civantos), who is jailed for tax fraud. Shocked by her new ménage, she begins to realize that some cons are prepared to kill other inmates to get their hands on the loot from a $10 million van heist. In mortal danger, she will have to use her wits to survive.

Spain has rarely aired Spanish prison dramas, especially set in women’s jails. High concept, “Locked Up” is “very powerful,” “dark-humor laced” and “highly innovative” in its ultra-realist visual style, in tones and lighting,” and shot over 130,000 sq. ft of sets, said Geraldine Gonard, Imagina Intl. Sales COO.

Civantos (“Arrayan,” “Toledo”) heads a fresh Spanish cast, backed by reputed actors such as Cristina Plazas (“Tengo ganas de ti”) as the prison governor, Najwa Nimri (“Rome in Room), and Carlos Hipólito (“Cuéntame como pasó”) as Macarena’s father.

2015’s Mip TV catches Spanish TV production as a select number of dramas have already broken out as formats or originals to international recognition. A remake of Spain’s dramedic procedural, “The Mysteries of Laura,” airs on NBC; medical dramedy “Red Band Society,” another U.S, makeover of a Filmax-produced original, ran last year for one season on Fox. Antena 3 parent Atresmedia is co-producing English-language series “Refugees,” show-run by Bambu Producciones’ Ramon Campos, with BBC Worldwide.

The Cannes TV-digital mart also unspools after Spain, for several years, has registered the impact of a flood of high-quality foreign dramas. These serve as both competition and inspiration for local series writers, prompting them, in creative terms at least, to raise their game, Gonard acknowledged. “Spain’s TV industry is highly creative, and crisis has made it all the more so,” she added. “Series writers are trying to be original, while still connecting with Spanish tastes.”

A second new Imagina series, “Royal Hospital” (“Hospital Real”), produced by Mamen Quintas’ Ficcion Producciones, broadcasts this Spring on regional pubcaster Television de Galicia, a source – with Catalonia’s Televisió de Catalunya (TVC) – of a significant part of high-quality drama in Spain over the last decades.

“Royal Hospital” takes a stock drama sub-genre – the hospital series -and gives it a twist, setting it in the late-eighteenth century. That adds to the difficulties of not only operations but also romance, here between a doctor, who is a member of the gentry, and a nurse from Spain’s toiling classes.

Also on Imagina Intl. Sales’ line-up is TVC hit TV movie “La Marina Café,” dramedic skein “B & B Magazine” and Voz Audiovisual-produced thriller “Serramoura, plus entertainment titles “Two For the Show,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “Fabriclan Kids” and “The Run of You Life,” plus movies “The Lasa & Zabala Case,” “Traces of Sandlewood” and “Messi,” a portrait of the soccer star, helmed by Alex de la Iglesia.

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