You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Gigantes’ Looks to Up the Ante for Originals

“Stay in the van. I’ll handle this,” grizzled family patriarch Abraham Guerrero instructs his two young sons at the beginning of “Gigantes,” Movistar Plus’ latest original series.

His eldest son, Daniel, hands him a wooden club. Across the street, under torrential rain, a man gets out of the car. Abraham hits him on the shins and back, and passes the club to Daniel, who lays into the man, now sprawled on the tarmac, as Tomás and Clemente watch on.

Gigantes,” directed and co-written by Enrique Urbizu, was produced by Movistar + and Gonzalo Salazar-Simpson’s Lazona Producciones (“Spanish Affair”) and one of the banner titles that sales agent About Premium Content will launch at October’s Mipcom. It is a brutal crime-clan saga about the Guerreros, who control Spain’s cocaine trade.

But “Gigantes” is no straight mob melodrama; it focuses, as Abraham’s brutal lesson in punishment suggests, on family, how values are passed on from one generation to the next, and how emotional wounds roil for decades — themes that resonate in contemporary Spain.

As of late August, very little of “Gigantes” had been seen: Just 14 minutes comprising five scenes from episode one, including Abraham’s instructive drubbing, showcased at April’s MipDrama Buyers’ Summit in Cannes. Movistar also dropped a 30-second trailer in late May.

Together, however, they’re enough to confirm that “Gigantes,” which world premieres on Sept. 28 at Spain’s San Sebastian Festival, is one of Movistar Plus’ flagship new premium series. Its ninth show to date also demonstrates just how far Telefonica’s pay-TV unit has come as an original series producer.
Movistar Plus has turned to movie directors for most of its series. Few, however, bear such clear cinematographic ambitions and origins as “Gigantes.”

Urbizu, who co-wrote “Gigantes’” and directed its first three episodes, won six Goya awards, including best picture, for his latest movie, 2011’s “No Rest for the Wicked.” His co-writer on that movie, Michel Gaztambide, is also a writer on the series, along with Miguel Barros and actor Manuel Gancedo.

“Gigantes” is shot in 2:35 aspect ratio and with anamorphic lenses — an immediate widescreen declaration that this is no run-of-the-mill TV series, capturing the sense of characters whose values, as in autumnal Westerns, belong to a bygone age.

Rather than using a multi-camera TV set-up and shaping the series in the editing suite, shot lengths were calculated “millimetrically” before lensing, Urbizu says.

“Gigantes,” as with other Movistar + series, is grounded in Spain. Few settings are as colorful as that of “Gigantes,’” however, taking in Madrid’s Rastro flea market, its rambunctious Lavapies multi-ethnic melting pot, and upscale Serrano art-gallery district.

Co-directed with Jorge Dorado, “Gigantes” underscores Movistar’s drive for production value, setting it apart from other series made in Spain. According to Urbizu, “Gigantes” used more locations in its first episode than the whole of “No Rest for the Wicked.”

A four-minute dinner scene showcased at MipDrama Screenings features 62 shots — to drive home Abraham’s bloody-minded tyranny and his three sons’ brewing dissidence.

Above all, as the number of high-end dramas rises exponentially in international markets, “Gigantes” shows Movistar + “learning to take riskier formal decisions,” says Domingo Corral, director of original fiction. “The public’s increasingly sophisticated. You can’t make series like you did even four years ago.”

Gancedo wrote the original scripts and they were “highly suggestive, very attractive,” but “required a new episode one, which wasn’t written, turning on the regime of devastation that Abraham installs in his sons,” Urbizu says.

Episode one of the series now works like an origin story set over three time periods, featuring Daniel’s attempted murder of Tomás’ wife, Sol, and detention by the police. The real serial kicks off 10 years later with episode two. Here, Daniel comes out of jail, and encounters a dazzling modern Madrid.

But he and Tomás still seethe for revenge.

Times change, “Gigantes’” temporal transitions appear to be saying. But people change more slowly.

More TV

  • The Netflix logo is displayed at

    TV Roundup: Netflix Orders Ted Bundy Docu-Series

    In today’s TV roundup, Netflix has ordered a docu-series on serial killer Ted Bundy and “Love, Gilda” sets a premiere date on CNN FIRST LOOKS Variety has obtained an exclusive clip of “Into the Okavango,” the upcoming National Geographic film. Premiering Dec. 14 on Nat Geo, the film, six years in the making, follows a [...]

  • Amy Poehler Is Ready for a

    Amy Poehler Is Ready for a 'Parks and Rec' Reunion

    Is Amy Poehler just getting our hopes up? We hope not, because the funny lady tells Variety that she’s ready for a “Parks and Recreation” reunion. “I am technically available,” Poehler said on Monday at Smart Girls’ 10th anniversary celebration dinner. “I have like six of Leslie’s blazers in my closet, so anytime.” “Parks and Recreation” [...]

  • Liz Meriwether Lake Bell

    Lake Bell, Liz Meriwether Comedy 'Bless This Mess' Moves From Fox to ABC With Series Order

    “Bless This Mess,” the single-camera comedy co-created by Lake Bell and Elizabeth Meriwether, has been ordered to series at ABC, Variety has learned. The series had previously been in contention at Fox and is a co-production between 20th Century Fox Television and ABC Studios. Bell also stars in the series alongside Dax Shepard. In the series, a [...]

  • 'Get Shorty' Renewed for Season 3

    'Get Shorty' Renewed for Season 3 at Epix

    Epix has renewed “Get Shorty” for Season 3. The loose adaptation of the 1990 Elmore Leonard novel and subsequent film stars Chris O’Dowd, Ray Romano, Lidio Porto, Megan Stevenson, Sean Bridgers, and Carolyn Dodd. In the series, O’Dowd plays a hitman from Nevada who struggles to shed his criminal past after he moves to Hollywood to [...]

  • Goliath Season 2 Amazon

    Amazon Renews 'Goliath' for Season 3

    Amazon has renewed legal drama “Goliath” for a third season. “Goliath” centers on washed-up lawyer Billy McBride, played by Billy Bob Thornton, who has one shot at redemption after a client he successfully defended from a murder charge went on to slaughter a family. Thornton won a Golden Globe for his performance in 2017. “Our [...]

  • Selena Quintanilla

    Selena Quintanilla Scripted Series Gets Greenlight at Netflix

    Netflix has ordered a scripted drama series based on the life of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla. The series is described as a coming of age story following Selena as her dreams come true and all the heart-wrenching and life-changing choices she and her family have to make as they navigate success, family, and music. “Selena [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content