Telecinco Cinema, Spain’s most successful movie producer, and Universal Pictures Intl. Spain have inked local distribution rights to two of the most awaited Spanish films of 2017: Sergio G. Sanchez’s terror thriller “Marrowbone” and Alex de la Iglesia’s dramedy “Perfectos desconocidos.”
Pact deepens a fruitful relationship which has seen recent milestones such as the local release of record-breaking TC-produced comedies “Spanish Affair 1” and “Spanish Affair 2,” which notched up a combined $105 million B.O. over 2014-15 in Spain, both handled by UPI. Both partners also launched in 2015 Alejandro Amenabar’s “Regression,” scoring a solid $10.2 million Spanish B.O.
Godfathered by J.A. Bayona as exec-producer, “Marrowbone” marks the feature film debut of Sergio G. Sanchez, scribe of Bayona’s “The Orphanage” and “The Impossible,” pics produced by Belen Atienza, alongside Alvaro Augustin and Ghislain Barrois at Telecinco Cinema, the film production arm of Spain’s TV giant Mediaset España.
“This is one of that genre film projects who goes beyond the genre, incorporating sentiments and becoming a sub-genre it self,” said Augustin, TC’s general manager.
Widely pre-sold by Lionsgate Intl. at the current Cannes market, the film tells the story of four children who hide from the world in a farm that holds a terrible secret. A 10-week English-language shoot is scheduled from June in Northern Spain’s Asturias and the Barcelona suburb of Terrasa.
“Perfectos desconocidos” adapts Paolo Genovese’s buzzed-up Italian pic “Perfetti sconosciuti” (Perfect Strangers), a high-concept dramedy produced by Medusa Film, TC’s Italian sister company.
Set during a dinner party where a group of friends decide to place their cell phones on the table, agreeing to make all texts and calls public, in an attempt to prove that they have nothing to hide, “Strangers” won screenplay and narrative feature awards at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.
The Spanish redo, penned by Alex de la Iglesia’s regular co-writer Jorge Guerricaechevarria and co-produced with Nadie Es Perfecto and Pokeepsie Films, also represents De la Iglesia’s return to Telecinco Cinema after his 2008’s Elijah Wood-starrer hit “The Oxford Crimes.”
Both titles form part of TC’s new film slate, which boast a wide range of genres. “The fact of betting on a potpourri of themes is related to our TV philosophy as a non-niche broadcaster,” said Paolo Vasile, Mediaset España CEO.
“This year, we will release three films as we did last year, but we want to increase next year’s film production to five-to-six titles,” said Telecinco Cinema CEO Ghislain Barrois.
New projects includes Enrique Gato and David Alonso’s toon feature “Tadeo Jones 2. El secreto del Rey Midas,” the sequel to B.O. phenomenon “Tad, The Lost Explorer.” The 2012’s animated pic snagged $51 million worldwide for Paramount Pictures Intl., who will also handle the franchise’s second installment, scheduled to launch in Spain by August 2017.
Spanish actress Belen Rueda (“The Orphanage,” “Julia’s Eyes”) will star in Norberto Lopez Amado’s Africa-set action thriller “El cuaderno de Sara,” co-produced by Ikiru Films and also penned by Guerricaechevarria.
Helmer Carlos Theron (“Hot School 2”) will direct “Es por tu bien,” a happy-finale comedy written by Manuel Burque and Josep Gatell.
Telecinco Cinema’s third and biggest theatrical launch for 2016, J.A. Bayona’s “A Monster Calls,” a co-production with Apaches Entertainment and Bayona’s Peliculas La Trini, toplining Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver and Lewis McDougal, is released Oct. 7 in Spain via UPI, one week before Focus Features launches it in the U.S..
After 15 years producing films, obliged by TV network investment quotas, Telecinco Cinema has produced 11 of the top 20 highest-grossing Spanish films ever in Spain, said Manuel Villanueva, Mediaset España’s contents general director.
“To talk about Telecinco Cinema is to talk about a philosophical principle: to transform an obligation into an opportunity. It has become a success story,” he said.
“In the past, Telecinco Cinema used to be an outsider for the international market; now we have become a reference,” Vasile added.