Call it Telemundo’s “Game of Thrones.” The Spanish-language network is hoping for a blockbuster premiere tonight for the long-awaited sophomore season of “La Reina del Sur,” the crime drama starring Kate del Castillo that ranks as Telemundo’s most-watched original series ever.
“La Reina” was a massive hit for Telemundo when it aired in early 2011. It also ushered in Telemundo’s strategy of veering from the traditional telenovela format into drama series designed to be renewed for multiple seasons. Telemundo’s “Super Series” run five nights a week for about 60 episodes rather than the 150 or more for telenovelas.
Season two of “La Reina,” which bows tonight at 10 p.m., has been in the works for eight years and lensed shot in eight countries with a hefty production budget by Telemundo standards. Del Castillo reprises her role as crime boss Teresa Mendoza, who was last seen going into witness protection after bringing down the president of Mexico.
Netflix has streaming rights to the series in territories outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Telemundo’s NBCUniversal sibling USA Network also fields an English-language remake, “Queen of the South,” which was renewed last year for a fourth season.
“The comeback of Kate del Castillo and the ‘La Reina del Sur’ franchise is a major event in Hispanic media,” said Marcos Santana, president of Telemundo Global Studios, who is also executive producer and showrunner of “La Reina.” “Since its premiere eight years ago, we still feel the power of its impact. We have never received such an overwhelming response from our audience for the return of a series.”
The trailer for “La Reina” Season 2 has racked up more than 10 million views since early March.
The original series averaged 3 million total viewers over its run, including 2 million in the adults 18-49 demo. Telemundo estimates 16.9 million viewers watched the show in 2011.
Del Castillo has become one of the most prominent stars in Spanish-language media during the past decade thanks to “La Reina” and the notoriety she received after arranging a meeting between actor Sean Penn and famed Mexican drug cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in September 2015, while he was still a fugitive in rural Mexico. Guzman was captured in 2016 and convicted in February by a federal jury in New York of drug smuggling and other charges.
Created by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, “La Reina del Sur” is exec produced by Telemundo’s Martha Godoy and AG Studios’ Rodrigo Guerrero, along with Santana. The sophomore season is a co-production of Telemundo Global Studios and Netflix.