Movistar+ Flagship Original ‘La Peste’ Gets Release Date for Spain

News comes as Telefonica's paybox unveils Paco León's TV comedy 'Arde Madrid,' a portrait of Ava Gardner wild years in Spain

Movistar+ Flagship Original Drama 'La Peste'
Movistar Plus

MADRID — The awaited Spanish release of Alberto Rodríguez’s high-end TV drama “La Peste” (The Plague), the flagship series of Telefonica’s Movistar+ ambitious venture into original TV fiction production, kicks-off Jan. 12 on Movistar+ SVOD service.

Movistar+, Spain’s leading paybox, will be offering access to the six-episodes encompassing the series’ first season, the company tweeted Tuesday.

One of the highlights of Spanish TV fiction for next year, “The Plague” has secured a second season order before its first installment’s release, the TV drama team being unveiled in September as part of the San Sebastian Festival’s official selection, a first for a TV drama.

With a €10 million ($12 million) budget, “The Plague,” created by Rodríguez (“Marshland”), written by Rafael Cobos and produced by Atípica Films’ José Antonio Félez, is probably the biggest period piece in Spanish TV history.

Set in Seville in 1580, at the tipping point of the Spanish Empire as it initiates an exorable declime, “The Plague” follows a serial killer investigation which lays bear the political-social context driving the crimes – as weññ as certain home truths about human nature.

U.K.-based Sky Vision handles “The Plague” international rights.

Marking the biggest drive of any European telecom company into high-end drama, Movistar+ has committed to invest annually $83 million in TV fiction productions, aimed to reinforce its SVOD as big content providers – Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video open services in Spain.

Movistar+ has already launched its first three original series during this fall: Bambú-produced melodrama “Velvet Collection,” Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo’s post-nuclear accident thriller “La Zona” and Enrique López-Lavigne-produced black comedy “Vergüenza.”

The paybox aims to release some 10 further new titles by the end of next year. Among them, “Arde Madrid,” a comedy set in Madrid in the ’60s, co-created and written by and starring Paco León, a highly popular film and TV Spanish thespian whose recent acting works include precisely a key role in “The Plague” (pictured).

Designed as a 30-minute, eight-episode series, “Arde Madrid” will roll in black and white in emblematic Madrid’s locations from Jan. 15. Movistar+ plans a fourth quarter SVOD release in Spain.

Co-created by Anna R. Costa, the series will include Argentine General Juan Domingo Perón, Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner among secondary characters of the story, where the stars will be the domestics that made their beds.

“Paco and Anna pitched the story with a picture of John Lennon in whose background there was a person making the bed. We liked that perspective. Ava Gardner belonged to a hedonist elite, but we contemplate this Madrid’s ‘Dolce Vita’ from the point of view of her servants,” said Domingo Corral, Movistar + head of original content.

“Thanks to the lack of free press during Franco’s dictatorship, the Madrid’s elite lived really little-known lives. They enjoyed a level of freedom unthinkable at that time. Ava was a hurricane and, in Spain, even more. She acted like a man, she was a martian,” León said.

Inma Cuesta (“Julieta,” “The Bride”), Anna Castillo (“Olive Tree,” “Oro”), Julián Villagrán (“Extraterrestrial,” “Grupo 7”) and León will play the domestic service characters in the series. Ava Gardner role will be performed by an American actress, who is as yet to be announced.