CANNES — Telefonica-Movistar +, Europe’s most active telecom content player, has signed with Vicente Canales’ Film Factory Entertainment, the biggest film sales agent in the Spanish-speaking world, for Film Factory to handle world sales on two of Movistar + first original series: “Spanish Shame” and “Look What You’ve Done.”
The move marks Film Factory’s full entry into the TV sales sector after one-off experiences such as handling “Crematorium,” the biggest pay TV series made in Spain before Movistar + burst upon the scene.
The Movistar + Film Factory accord also signals the first sales agents deal with a national sales sector player by Madrid-based Movistar +, on the cusp of Movistar +’s major TV market debut, which should be one if the events of this year’s Mipcom.
In deals unveiled at MipTV, Beta’s acquired world sales rights to “La Zona” and “Velvet Collection”; Sky Vision, the powerful sales arm of European pay TV giant Sky, is handling sales of “The Plague”; Paris-based About Premium Content is representing “The Giants.”
Powering into high-profile fiction, Film Factory has acquired two biggest straight comedies, with half hours, on Movistar +’s first original series slate.
Mixing “Larry David” and “Louie ” naturalism with Spain’s great tradition of black comedic frustration (think Rafael Azcona, Marco Ferreri, Alex de la Iglesia), the ten-part “Spanish Shame” is produced by Enrique López-Lavigne (“The Impossible,” “28 Weeks Later”) and directed by Juan Cavestany (“People in Places”) and Alvaro Fernández-Armero (“Sidetracked”).
Written by them, it stars Javier Gutiérrez, one of Spain’s great character actors (“Marshland,” “The Author”) as Jesús, an an inept, pretentious wedding photographer whose off-the-cuff racist and sexist comments, which he failingly tries to justify dig him into an ever-deeper hole of cringe-inducing embarrassment. At first farcical, the faux-pas of the photographer and his wife take on as increasingly tragic dimension as the series builds. The world has moved on, assumed or at least recognized better mores, but Jesús doesn’t seem able to move on at all.
Bowing November on Movistar +, “Spanish Shame” world premiered at San Sebastián to an upbeat reception.
A fictional parenthood comedy produced by Movistar + and El Terrat, on of the great comedy hothouses in Spain, “Look What You’ve Done” will deliver an ironic, realistic and contemporary take on parenting, channeling the idiosyncratic humor of Spain’s Berto Romero, one of the leading lights of Spanish late-night comedy. It hits Movistar + in February 2018.
“Film Factory has a recognized experience when selling content in Spanish worldwide,” said Ismael Calleja, Movistar+ head of business affairs, adding that he was more than happy to add a first Spanish sales agent to Movistar +’s network of international distribution partners.
“We hope others will be joining in the coming future,” Calleja said.
“Spanish Shame” and “Look What You’ve done” are “two hilarious sitcoms with an impecable production values,” said Film Factory founder Vicente Canales, noting his pleasure at closing with “such a good company as Movistar+” which has “the know-how to target audiences with quality content.”
News of the new Movistar + deal comes on the cusp of a Mipcom trade fair and conference where Movistar + original fiction director Domingo Corral delivers a keynote on Monday Oct. 16; Mipcom also hosts International Screening premieres of its two biggest productions to date: “The Plague,” a big-scale 1580 Seville crime thriller; and “La Zona,” a murder investigation and family drama set in the wake of a nuclear station meltdown.
The double screening and keynote should ensure a high-profile market presence for Movistar +, the pay TV unit of Madrid H. Q-ed Telefonica, one of Europe’s three largest telecoms – with Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom – by most metrics, and the first to drive on a massive scale into original series production.
That has a market logic. At 32% of households, Spain, with Italy and Greece, has one of the lowest market pay TV penetration levels in the E.U., vs. 63% for the U.K., much higher for Nordic countries, IHS Markit’s Maria Rua Aguete observed at a presentation of key Spanish market metrics in Madrid in early October.
“Premium-priced pay TV has not been successful in Spain in a country where piracy is very high,” according to Aguete.
Telefonica is convinced, however, that growth can be achieved by what Luis Miguel Gilpérez. president of Telefonica España, terms a “democratizing” of TV: Offering TV at highly attractive rates bundled with fiber-optic broadband and mobile telephony – commodities Spaniards are certainly prepared to pay for.
Movistar + also aims to make Spanish series at a volume which no other operator, not even Netflix, is likely to match.
“People have to sense that they’re missing out on something if they don’t subscribe to Movistar +. Four series a year are just drops in the ocean, Corral has said.
To do so, Telefonica-Movistar + has turned to both leading lights among TV creators in Spain – such as Bambú Producciones’s Ramón Campos and Teresa Fernández-Valdès (“Velvet Collection”) and Jorge and Alberto Sánchez-Cabezudo (“La Zona”) as well as its hottest cross-over movie producers and directors – López-Lavigne and José Antonio Félez and Alberto Rodríguez, producer and creator of “The Plague.”
Film Factory signed a four-pic movie deal with López Lavigne last year and has sold Félez and Rodríguez’s last three movies, one “Marshland,” all over the world. With both Gilpérez and Corral saying they do not rule out Movistar’s move into high-end movies, it is natural for Vicente Canales to accompany his key talent into TV, as everybody rings the options on TV and movie production, much of the biggest plays made foreseeably, at Movistar +.