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Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz’s ‘Escobar’ Closes Slew of Major Territory Pre-Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

Spain-Bulgaria co-production initiates principal photography Oct. 24

BARCELONA — Nu Image has closed a raft of pre-sales on Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz starrer “Escobar,” which is scheduled to go into production on Oct. 24, directed by Spain’s Fernando León de Aranoa, whose credits include 2002’s San Sebastian Golden Seashell-winner “Mondays in the Sun,” which won Bardem a best actor Spanish Academy Goya, and 2015 Directors’ Fortnight entry “A Perfect Day,” with Benicio del Toro and Tim Robbins.

Of major territories, “Escobar” has been sold to the U.K. (Icon Film Distribution), Latin America (California Filmes), France (SND-M6 Groupe), Spain (Filmax), Australia/NZ (Becker Film Group), West Indies (VAA Film Distributors), Benelux (Dutch FilmWorks), Greece/Cyprus (Odeon), Italy (Notorious), Portugal (Nos Lusomundo), Scandinavia (Star Media Entertainment), India/Philippines (Parkit Films), Indonesia (Amero Mitra Film), Vietnam (Rain Film), Middle East (Eagle), Turkey (Tanweer), Eastern Europe (ProRom) and the CIS and Baltic States (Magnum).

Husband and wife off screen, one of the last time the two Oscar-winning Spanish thesps starred together in a movie was  “Vicky, Cristina Barcelona,” which won Cruz and supporting role actress Oscar. They also appeared together in Ridley Scott’s “The Counselor” and broke through as young actors playing opposite each other in Bigas Luna’s “Jamon, Jamon.”

The producer of Marcelo Piñeyro’s “Kamchatka” and Hatem Khraiche’s “Tripulante 9,” Miguel Menendez de Zubillaga at Spain’s Escobar Films will produce “Escobar” in co-production with Kalina Kottas (“The Contract,” “The Black Dahila”) at Bulgaria B2Y. “Escobar” is structured as a 70/30 Spain-Bulgaria co-production.

It recreates drug lord Pablo Escobar’s story, paying especial emphasis on his love affair with glamorous Colombian TV host Virginia Vallejo (Cruz).

The screenplay has been penned by León de Aranoa based on Vallejo’s book “Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar.” “Escobar” will be lensed by Álex Catalán (“Marshland”). Crew also includes production designer Alain Bainée, whose credits include Brad Anderson’s “Transsiberian”.

Feature will entirely be shot in Colombia.

“We’ve been testing make-up on Bardem and results are truly awesome,” Zubillaga enthusiastically told Variety.

Announced in Cannes, the project was first set up at Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp. Twenty three years after his death in 1993, drug baron Escobar personality and crimes is driving a fiction boom, including Netflix’s “Narcos,” on elf its most successful original series, Andrea Di Stefano’s “Escobar: Paradise Lost,” which received an upbeat reaction and, in Colombia, Caracol TV milestone series “Pablo Escobar: El Patron del Mal.” A U.S. independent production “The Ballad of Pablo Escobar” starring John Leguizamo, has also announced.

After Balkan war comedy “Day,” — sold by WestEnd Films,–  “Escobar” will be the second English-language effort from Spanish auteur León de Aranoa. “It will be a decisive step for Leon de Aranoa in the strengthening of his career,” Menendez de Zubillaga commented.

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