France’s Playtime Joins Vaca, Sabado on Jorge Coira’s Spanish Spy Thriller ‘Project Emperor’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Jorge Coira
Jaime Olmedo

Jorge Coira, the Spanish director of “18 Meals” and hit Spanish-French series “Hierro,” is set to helm “Project Emperor” (“Proyecto Emperador”), a timely spy thriller penned by “Cell 211” screenwriter Jorge Guerricaechevarria, also Alex de la Iglesia’s career-long co-scribe.

Vaca Films (“Extinction”) is producing with Sábado Películas (“A Perfect Enemy”), La Ley del Plomo AIE (“Gun City”) and Paris-based pan-European sales-production company the Playtime Group whose current slate includes Jacques Audiard’s “Paris, 13th District.”

“Project Emperor” is expected to start filming in April. Adolfo Blanco’s leading Spanish company, A Contracorriente Films, has acquired Spain’s distribution rights.

“Project Emperor” unfolds in the Spanish state espionage underworld and revolves around Juan, an agent working for the intelligence services, who also reports to a parallel unit involved in illegal activities. While his official mission is to prevent terrorist attacks, Juan is pushed to cross the red line to cover up crimes committed by figures in power.

The movie explores how far Juan is willing to go to fulfill his duty. And above all, whether he has a choice.

“The world of espionage is one of the most stimulating environments to explore extreme loyalty conflicts, where noble causes, such as the security of a country and the protection of its citizens, are being pursued in ways that can be highly violent,” said Coira. “The boundaries are not always clear. The film aims to bring a new insight into that world, with a backdrop that will be seem very familial to viewers,” added Coira.

Emma Lustres at Vaca Films said the movie was inspired by real events and described it as “suspenseful” and “emotionally-charged.”

“Guerricaechevarría is one of our industry’s most important screenwriters with whom we’ve enjoyed a fruitful collaboration and we’re looking forward to beginning this journey with Coira, a remarkable Galician helmer who has a special gaze and is excellent at working with actors,” said Lustres.

Sebastien Beffa, Playtime’s partner and head of acquisitions, said the company’s long-term partnership with Vaca Films dates back to “Cell 211” twelve years ago.

“‘Project Emperor’ will mark out fifth collaboration with Vaca Films and it has its distinctive cachet: An experienced director with a vision (Coira), and a very strong screenwriter (Guerricaechevarría) who has delivered the most innovative scripts in Spanish cinema, as well as the quality and value brought by Emma and Borja [Pena],” said Beffa, adding that the company believes the film has the potential to “resonate in today’s complex international market.”

The Playtime deal is also a sign of how the world’s film sector has evolved ove the last decade. On prison-set thriller “Cell 211,” one of Spain’s biggest modern break-outs, Playtime, then Films Distribution, acted as the film’s sales agent, selling the film territory by territory all over the world.

On “Project Emperor,” it is producing, taking equity in the project as Playtime moves ever more into production and choses very carefully the select movies it will be involved in – hence Beffa’s detailed explanation – a forwardgoing strategy outlined by Playtime partner François Yon at San Sebastian’s European Forum in September.