×

Movistar+ Announces Ambitious Original Series ‘La Unidad’

MELILLA, Spain — Spain’s pay TV leader Movistar+ has announced its newest original series, the anti-terrorist police drama-thriller series “La Unidad,” which started filming last week in the small autonomous Spanish community of Melilla, located on the Moroccan coast.

One of the biggest international plays to date for Movistar +, the pay TV/SVOD unit of telecom Telefonica, “La Unidad” re-teams director Dani de la Torre and writer Alberto Marini (“Sleep Tight”), who found audience and international sales success with the 2015 Venice-selected “Retribution” (“El Desconicido”), which won Spanish Academy Goya Awards for new director, editing and sound, as well as six other nominations.

Marini wrote the screenplay with Amèlia Mora, a story editor on famed Spanish horror film “[REC]” and head of development on “Sleep Tight,” another key Filmax title.

“La Unidad” turns on a group of Spanish Civil Guard anti-terrorist police officers who operate as one of the world most effective agencies at preventing terrorist attacks. The group works on the fenced-off border between Morocco and the Spanish city of Melilla, one of Spain’s two enclaves on the African continent.

The group is led by Carla, played by four-time Goya nominee and one time winner Nathalie Poza, who runs the unit like a family. When her unit captures the most wanted terrorist in the world, it makes Spain the prime target for his followers, including his son, who are all willing to die for their cause.

The series is produced by Movistar+ and A Coruña-based Vaca Films, the latter having produced “Retribution” and De la Torre’s “The Shadow of the Law,” as well as standout titles in Spain’s recent crime thriller cannon, such as 2009’s “Cell 211,” a co-production with Morena Films, and Miguel Angel Vivas’ 2010 breakout “Kidnapped.”

Launching its first original high-end drama series “Velvet Collection” in 2017, and aiming to release some 19 new or returning series this year, Movistar + has never hidden its ambition to become the most important content producer in the Spanish-speaking world, making a sufficient volume of series to attract distinct demographies to an integrated mobile-broadband-TV offer in Spain and now Latin America, where it announced its first series during MipTV.

16th century mafia-crime thriller “The Plague,” which unleashes Season 2 later this year, stands out as Movistar’s most ambitious series to date in both budget and scale. But, according to Domingo Corral, the company’s director of original fiction, “La Unidad” promises the same level of scale, only applied a bit differently.

All Movistar + Original Series are  “important in some way, but in terms of scale yes, this series is of an ambition very similar to ‘The Plague,’ he said in Melilla.

But, this has a different complexity to “The Plague.” Corral explained at a press Q&A held after the day’s shooting wrapped.

“Here one of the most complicated things in this series are the locations,” he continued. “Another is the action, because we want the action to be realistic and for the audience to believe it. That level of production is very demanding and complicated, so the challenges are different, but I would say yes, that this series will be on a level with ‘The Plague.’”

Marini and Mora took three years to develop the script – long and thorough development periods are a hallmark of Movistar’s modus operandi for original series.

What marks “La Unidad apart is the international spread of its locations, a large ensemble cast, an emphasis on full-on action entertainment which is designed to appeal to a broader audience rather than targeted demography, and a subject which, while highly relevant to Spain, is a global concern. Movistar +’s series have often appealed because of the universality of their characters. Here the context is equally relevant as well.

According to Vaca Films’ co-founder Emma Lustres, the film will be shot like a documentary, with the camera following characters through scenes to enhance the feeling of reality for viewers. It’s a filmmaking style that De la Torre utilized with aplomb on “Retribution.”

The production team is banking on the series’ international marketability. At the announcement, it suggested it will be Movistar +’s broadest targeting series to date. It boasts a large, polyglot cast and a script featuring multiple languages and regional dialects as well as scenes shot in Melilla, Tangier and Nigeria in Africa, Perpignan and Toulouse in France, and Madrid, Girona and Galicia in Spain. The series adrenaline-fueled action sequences should turn a few heads as well.

“La Unidad” is scheduled to premiere spring 2020, perfect timing for festivals such as Series Mania or Canneseries which have proved fertile ground for other Movistar+ titles. Earlier this month Movistar+ women-centric dramedy series “Perfect Life,” co.written and directed by Leticia Dolera, won both best series and special performance prizes for its three lead actresses at Canneseries.

Pictured: Dani de la Torre

Spanish Director Dani De La Torre Poses During the Photocall For 'El Desconocido' (the Unknown) at the 63rd Annual San Sebastian International Film Festival in San Sebastian Spain 22 September 2015 the Festival Runs From 18 to 26 September Spain San SebastianSpain San Sebastian Film Festival - Sep 2015
CREDIT: Juan Herrero/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

More TV

  • Kian Lawley Starring in Finnish Comedy

    Kian Lawley, Katherine C. Hughes Starring in Finnish Comedy 'Perfect Commando'

    Kian Lawley, who was dropped from movie “The Hate U Give” last year after a video resurfaced of him that included racist comments, has landed a starring role alongside Katherine C. Hughes (“Blue Bloods”) in the Finnish comedy “Perfect Commando.” The series is the latest original for Elisa Viihde’s Aitio streaming service, and will be [...]

  • Chris Hardwick Aziz Ansari MeToo Comeback

    Aziz Ansari, Chris Hardwick's Reemergence Complicate the #MeToo Conversation

    Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix stand-up special “Right Now” marks the comedian’s return to the spotlight more than a year after being publicly accused of sexual impropriety, an allegation that has proved to be divisive, fueling discussions about what is considered consent and what constitutes sexual assault. His isn’t the only redemptive arc forming at the [...]

  • Jenji Kohan with two-time Emmy winner

    Inside 'Orange Is the New Black's' Unlikely Journey to Become Netflix's Most-Watched Original

    Before “Netflix and chill” entered the cultural lexicon, before the streaming platform won its first Emmy, before it started inking deals with major showrunners, Netflix in the early 2010s was testing out a hypothesis about the public’s appetite for premium-quality television shows on the internet. It had recently recovered from the Qwikster debacle — an [...]

  • John Malone

    Liberty Global and Vodafone's $21.5 Billion Cable Deal Cleared by European Authorities

    The European Commission has approved Vodafone’s $21.5 billion deal for a raft of Liberty Global assets in Europe, with conditions attached. The commission had investigated the deal on the grounds that it could reduce competition and lead to higher prices for consumers. It concluded, however, that the deal could go ahead with conditions. These include [...]

  • Harlots

    ITV Takes Majority Stake in ‘Harlots’ Producer Monumental Television

    ITV Studios now has a controlling stake in Monumental Television, the production company that makes Hulu series “Harlots” and that was founded by Oscar-nominated film producers Alison Owen and Debra Hayward. ITV first bought into the company in 2015 and has upped its stake from 26% to 51%. Julian Bellamy, managing director of ITV Studios, [...]

  • Fremantle Owner RTL Group Forms New

    Fremantle Owner RTL Group Forms New Unscripted Formats Unit

    RTL has created a new unit that will work up unscripted formats exclusively for broadcasters and streaming services in the group. Fremantle, which is a major force in unscripted, is part of the RTL Group, and makes shows for RTL and third parties. The new Format Creation Group will develop ideas exclusively for in-house outlets. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content