MORELIA, Mexico — 14 years after it stirred controversy and broke box office records in Mexico, Carlos Carrera’s priest-scandal drama “El Crimen del Pedro Amaro” (“The Crime of Father Amaro”) is set to hit the small screen. Nominated for a Golden Globe and foreign-language Academy Award in 2003, the drama, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, was a box office phenomenon in Mexico after the Catholic Church tried to get the film banned, driving even more people to see it. It grossed a then record-busting $16.5 million, an all-time record for a Mexican film.
Acquired by Sony Pictures Entertainment in select territories and released by Samuel Goldwyn Films in the U.S., it grossed $5.7 million stateside. It now ranks 7th among the top ten-grossing Mexican films in the country.
Adapted from an 1875 novel by Portuguese scribe Jose Maria Eca de Queiroz and set in modern Mexico, the drama pivots on the scandal of a young priest (Bernal) who is assigned to a remote village where he impregnates a young woman infatuated with him.
The series, titled “Los Crimenes del Padre Amaro” (“The Crimes of Father Amaro”), will pick up from where the film ends, based on extensive research on some factual events. Alameda Films producer Daniel Birman Ripstein, helmer-scribe Luis Urquiza (“Perfect Obedience”) and Gabriel Ripstein, whose feature debut “600 Miles” had its Mexican premiere at the Morelia Int’l Film Fest last year, are co-writing the scripts and likely to direct some of the 10 episodes.
“It’s a series about intrigue and power and how Father Amaro’s ruthless ambition transforms him as he seeks to become the first Mexican Pope,” said Birman.
“We’re adapting it to the new formats and platforms existing today,“ said Birman who does not rule out presenting the series to the OTT services in the region, led by Netflix, Televisa’s Blim and ClaroVideo. Principal photography is slated for mid-next year.
Alameda Films recently produced “7:19,” Jorge Michel Grau’s drama based on the 1985 earthquake in Mexico, starring Demian Bichir whose directorial debut world premieres at Morelia on Sunday, Oct. 23.