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Telefonica’s Movistar, Sanchez-Cabezudo Bros. Prepare ‘La zona’

Telefonica-Movistar Plus follows counterparts Sky and Vivendi in producing premium drama

Eduard Fernandez, La Zona
Courtesy of Movistar Plus

Movistar Plus, the pay TV operator of telco Telefonica, is partnering with brothers Alberto and Jorge Sanchez-Cabezudo (“The Night of the Sunflowers,” “Crematorium”) on “La zona,” a cop thriller TV series project set in a society, attempting to come to terms with a nuclear catastrophe.

The Sanchez-Cabezudos create, write, direct and produce, via their outfit Kubik Films, which produces with Kowalski Films’ producer Koldo Zuazua and Juan Moreno at Feelgood Media.

“La zona” is the third officially announced original TV series from Telefonica as it emerges, with Sky and Vivendi, as one of the three key pay TV drivers of higher end drama production in Western Europe.

In Jan. 2015, Telefonica paybox Movistar Plus unveiled an ambitious plan to air eight original premium TV series a year starting in 2017.

“La zona” has entered into pre-production stage, and is scheduled to roll from March in Northern Spain, according to Movistar Plus development director Felipe Ponton.

Actor Eduard Fernandez (“El Niño,” “The Skin I Live In”) will star as Hector, a police inspector investigating a particularly brutal crime committed in an uninhabited area, following a nuclear accident.

The 50-minute, eight-episode TV skein “is a road movie, framed via a police investigation which will opening up storylines in a world generated by a nuclear accident, focusing on small and daily issues, based on real-life worlds,” said Alberto Sanchez-Cabezudo in a statement.

“It is not a futuristic story: We want to translate what happened in Fukushima or Chernobyl to a Spanish reality,” added Jorge Sanchez-Cabezudo.

Nature will play an important factor in the series, which will show the contradiction between the beauty of abandoned places and the danger of radiation, the brothers commented to the Spanish press.

Jorge Sanchez-Cabezudo, whose “The Night of the Sunflowers” was considered by critics one of Spain’s most notable film debuts of the past decade, directed and co-penned for Canal Plus, alongside his brother Alberto, 2011 TV series “Crematorium,” a portrait of a corruption-sodden contempo Spain and a pioneering pay TV drama for Spain.

Eduard Fernandez starring role in ”La zona” marks his second Spanish pay TV series after he toplined Mariano Barroso’s drama “Entre todas las mujeres,” another early pay TV series, produced in 2010 by Turner’s TNT channel.

Spain looks set to become one of the most competitive VOD markets in Europe. Netflix unveiled its first original TV series in Spain this March. HBO  announced a streaming service in Spain by the end of this year. According to press reports, Amazon is also planning to launch a subscription VOD service this year. In this context, Movistar Plus, which clearly leads Spain’s pay TV market with some 3.8 million subscribers, is fast ramping up its original premium TV series production.

The two other TV dramas already announced by Movistar Plus are Alberto Rodriguez’s Seville-set period thriller “La peste,” an Atipica Films production scheduled to roll by year-end, and Juan Cabestany and Alvaro Fernandez Armero’s romantic comedy “Verguenza,” produced by Apaches’ Enrique Lopez Lavigne, which is now in production.