×

Telefonica Studios Furthers Drive Into Latin America (EXCLUSIVE)

Telco production house, Cactus, Mono co-produce Colombia-shot ‘Orbita 9,’ Hatem Khraiche’s anticipated debut

BERLIN – Telefonica Studios, the film-TV production arm of telco giant Telefonica, already a key player in Spain and Argentina, is taking another step into Latin America teaming with Cactus Flower and Mono Films on the Colombia-shot romantic thriller “Orbita 9.”

Part of Movistar Plus, which takes in Spain’s biggest pay TV and SVOD operation, Telefonica Studios has seen large success in Argentina, co-producing with El Deseo and Artgentina’s top broadcaster Telefe and K & S Films the country’s biggest-breakout titles: Oscar-shortlisted “Wild Tales,” a Sony Pictures Classics U.S. hit, and “The Clan,” Pablo Trapero’s 2015 Venice best director winner.

The anticipated debut of Hatem Khraiche, screenwriter of the Cactus Flower co-produced “The Hidden Face” and one ofbSpain’s most talked-up young talents, “Orbita 9” is totally Spanish. Its Colombia shoot, use of cash rebates and link up with Colombia’s top movie producer Dynamo, which provides services – as it did on “Narcos,” which it exec produces – reps one further step, however, in Telefonica Studios’ increased movie presence in Latin America, where it is already one of the region’s most important telcos.

“With Spain, Latin America is the natural territory of the Telefonica Group. Anything that touches or takes advantage of a presence in countries where Telefonica operates is for us always positive,” said Gabriel Arias-Salgado, Telefonica Spanish film production head.

“For Axel Kuschevatzky [Telefonica film production head] and for me, ‘Orbita 9’ is an opportunity to explore co-production possibilities with Latin America,” he added, citing other examples as “The Clan” and Daniel Calparsoro’s “100 años de perdon,” both Spain-Argentina co-productions. “Other opportunities are being analyzed in Mexico as well.”

Written by Khraiche, and an intriguing addition to Spain’s young auteur genre output which takes in many of its highlights of 2016 – think Juan Antonio Bayona’s “A Monster Calls” with Liam Neeson, and Alberto Rodriguez’s “Smoke and Mirrors – “Orbita 9” turns on a young woman who is part of a massive scientific experiment, though she doesn’t know it. Her destiny changes when a young scientist makes her discover a new reality. But their love affair endangers the future of humanity.

Clara Lago (“The Hidden Face,” “Spanish Affair”) stars with Alex Gonzalez (“X Men: First Class”), Andres Parra (“Escobar, el patron del mal”) and Belen Rueda (“The Orphanage”).

“’Orbita 9’ is a propulsive romantic thriller which reflects on what we’ve done to planet earth,” said Khraiche. It is a “very high concept, surprising, dangerous love story between a scientist and his guinea pig,” added Cristian Conti, at Cactus Flower (“Out of The Dark,” The Vanished Elephant”).

It is tapping both Colombian federal cash rebates, tabbed at 20%-40% of spend, and complementary up-to-15% rebates in Medellin. 10 foreign film/TV projects shot in Colombia last year, including Tom Cruise starrer “Mena,” serviced by Dynamo, and James Gray’s “The Lost City of Z.”

“Colombia is a go-to destination, skills are getting better because of the kind of movies that are being done and more and more movies are being done,” Conti said. “ It’s a great time to work here and because the peso is so devalued you can do far more with dollars or Euros.”

It also has extraordinary locations. One, a picturesque shanty working class barrio of Medellin, appears in “Orbita 9.”

Rolling from Feb. 8 in Medellin, production segues to a studio in Bogota, then to a futuristic building in Parque Alava, northern Spain, said Miguel Menendez de Zubillaga, at Mono Films, a Madrid-based film, branded content TV and commercials house.

“The locations of this film are spectacular and that gives magic to the film. It could seem sci-fi, but it talks about a point of no return for the earth, and that’s not futuristic, it’s real,” he added.

 

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Love is the Monster

    Neto Villalobos’ ‘Love is the Monster’ Heads to San Sebastian Co-Pro Forum (EXCLUSIVE)

    Costa Rican director Ernesto “Neto” Villalobos’ third feature, “Love is the Monster,” will participate in September’s San Sebastian Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum. Having found festival success with his first two features, “All About the Feathers” and “Helmet Heads,” both drama-comedies, Villalobos will head in a different direction with “Love is the Monster,” a psychological thriller [...]

  • Pinewood Atlanta Studios

    Pinewood Group to Exit Atlanta Studios Joint Venture

    The Pinewood Group is pulling out of its Atlanta facility as it refocuses its international strategy. The group announced Wednesday that it has sold its equity in Pinewood Atlanta Studios to River’s Rock, its joint venture partner in the facility. The joint venture was set up in 2013 with Pinewood Atlanta Studios now the second [...]

  • El Principe

    Storyboard Swoops on Seven Titles for 2020 Chilean Distribution (EXCLUSIVE)

    Key Chilean independent production-distribution company Storyboard Media has announced a knock-your-socks-off slate of seven domestic features, in varying degrees of completion, to be released in Chile across 2020. Bound for Venice’s Critics’ Week, Sebastián Muñoz’s “The Prince” was a hit at last year’s works in progress section at the San Sebastian Film Festival and will [...]

  • Tigerlily

    Banijay Rights Signs First Look Deal with Tigerlily Prods.

    Seeking to expand its scripted offering, Banijay Rights has signed a first look development deal with Tigerlily Productions, a U.K. production company whose credits include David Farr’s “The Ones Below” and “Remainder” with Tom Sturridge. The deal covers scripted programming developed, created and produced by Tigerlily for the U.K. and international markets. Tigerlily Productions, which [...]

  • Blanco-en-Blanco

    Stray Dogs Picks Up Int’l Sales Rights to Venice-bound ‘Blanco en Blanco’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    SANTIAGO, Chile – In the run-up to the upcoming 76th Venice Int’l Film Festival, Paris-based Stray Dogs has closed international sales rights on Chilean drama “Blanco en Blanco,” which holds its world premiere in the festival’s Horizons sidebar. Filmed last year in the frigid tundra of Chile’s Tierra de Fuego and Spain’s tropical Canary Islands, [...]

  • Gerard Butler Angel Has Fallen

    Film Review: 'Angel Has Fallen'

    “Angel Has Fallen” marks the third time that Gerard Butler, as the Secret Service agent and scowling samurai cowboy Mike Banning, has had to rescue the President of the United States from an international conspiracy so cuckoo bananas that the movie barely expects you to believe it. (Actually, in the six years since this series [...]

  • Jessica

    Ninja Thyberg's Female POV Porn Industry Portrait Seduces Buyers (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —  Paris-based Versatile has announced a raft of pre-sales on Ninja Thyberg’s debut feature “Jessica,” set in the adult entertainment industry in L.A. World distributors that have pre-bought the Swedish drama take in Weltkino for Germany/Austria, Xenix for Switzerland, MK2/Mile End for Canada, KTH for South Korea and Movie Could for Taïwan. Several [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content