MADRID — Shot in 2:35 aspect ratio, an immediate widescreen declaration of intent that this is not a run-of-the-mill TV series for Spain, Enrique Urbizu’s new project, “Giants,” is one of seven premium original series in production at Telefonica’s pay TV unit Movistar + which formerly unveiled the drama late last week in Madrid. Following, five points on one of Movistar +‘s biggest premium TV series bets:
1. O.K., BUT WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Sales agent Emmanuelle Guilbart at Paris-based All About Content announced the briefest of details to Variety when bringing the series onto the market at April’s Mip TV. Now, much more is known. The series narrates the conflicts and internal struggles of a family of drug dealers in Madrid. The three sons are raised with an iron fist by a widowed, violent man, Abraham Guerrero, soon to be kingpin of Madrid’s criminal underworld, who is portrayed by Spanish José Coronado (“The Body”), in his fourth collaboration with Urbizu. The title of the series perfectly describes the collateral of such breeding – the almost inevitable clash between the sons and father. The result: Violent and tension-packed drama that, like its main characters, leaves few holds barred.
Precise and methodical, no Spanish director has so consistently channeled classic or modern Hollywood, from Westerns to Michael Mann and Brian de Palma, into movie stories set in modern Spain, about anti-heroes whose time has passed them by. The hits, when they’ve come, have been notable: “Box 507” and “No Rest for the Wicked.” He’s the kind of multi-laureled accessible auteur which Movistar + has courted in Spain for its first series.
3. A FERAL FAMILY CONFLICT NOT (NECESSARILY) FOR FAMILY VIEWING
For Urbizu: “The main idea that embodies this project is risk, high risk, Movistar + is betting on young talent, violent material, ferocious characters that audiences will hardly empathize with, and without many expectations for a happy end.” It couldn’t be otherwise. Launching a premium TV series slate, Movistar + has to set itself apart from free-to-air drama to date in Spain. These new television dynamics entail not making concessions in order to appeal to larger demographics: Understanding that content doesn’t have to be for the entire family.
4.GROUNDED IN MADRID
“Giants” – and this is so characteristic of Urbizu’s work – lays large emphasis on its Madrid setting as another main character: whether its Rastro flea-market or rambunctious Lavapies multi-ethnic melting pot.
”This hasn’t been written as a [traditional] series, “ Urbizu said on set. “We’re always moving throughout the city. In just the first episode we have more locations than we did in ‘No Rest for the Wicked.’” In international terms, that specificity is not a problem, but a plus.
The multiplicity of locations points up Movistar + series’ production values. The script was developed over a period of almost two years; it’s now being shot with anamorphic lenses; a seasoned cinematographer Unax Mendía (“Velvet”) lenses the show. “This is a project that has the most ambitious cinematic values of image and staging,” Urbizu enthused. “Working with Enrique on the construction of character is the closest one could have to a work in theatre,” Coronado said of his collaboration with Urbizu. The stakes, as the budgets, are high.