MADRID — Driving to build operations between Spain and North America, Spain’s Secuoya Group, owner of the Madrid studios used by Netflix for its first European Production Hub, has named James Costos, former HBO VP of global licensing and retail, as president of Secuoya Studios, its TV fiction-film content production arm.
Secuoya will also open an H.Q. in Los Angeles which will be headed up by Costos – the latest step in international growth for Secuoya, one of the drivers of the Spanish-language fiction revolution, which has already struck deals and alliances from 2014 onwards with companies in Perú, México, Colombia, Chile and the U.S.
The appointment of Costos, who served as a U.S. ambassador to Spain over 2013-17, named by then U.S. President Barack Obama, comes as the Secuoya Group is constructing new soundstages around its Madrid studios to create Madrid Content City, an ambitious business park of 140,000 square meters (1.5 million square feet) that will house a large production hub, services for filming, a university campus and sports and leisure areas.
Costos’ enrollment in Secuoya has also come about as Spanish and Latin American production occupy an ever more important presence on the global scene. New seasons of shows such as “Money Heist” (“La Casa de Papel”) and “Elite” top TV Time charts of the most binged shows in the world; Spanish-language scripted drama production levels about double those in French, according to a study by research company Ampere Analysis.
The difference in production costs between the U.S. and Spain, where a $1.5 million episode is considered high-budget, is also marked.
Under Costos’ leadership, Secuoya Studios will develop opportunities between Spain and the U.S. along three fronts: Content production, including story development and adaptations of literary works; production services on Spanish, American, and other international television/film projects; and co-productions, seeking synergies between international projects and Spanish and American players, as well as launching projects with partners in other countries.
A popular figure in Spain, given his evident passion for and knowledge of the country, Costos aided, while ambassador, in securing a Spanish shoot for “Game of Thrones,” which in turn helped usher in new local-spend-tagged incentives for Spain. After 2017, when he stepped down from diplomacy, he was named an “honorary ambassador” of the Spanish Film Commission for his aid in linking Spanish and U.S. companies.
Splitting his time between Los Angeles and Madrid, he will now continue to do so, in a far more active role as Spanish companies have shown the ability to make shows of international reach but sometimes lack the specific skill-set of packaging to pitch to global platforms and other potential U.S. partners.
“Today is a great day, not only for Secuoya Studios, but also for the Spanish film and television industry, Raúl Berdonés, president of Grupo Secuoya, said Monday in a written statement.
“The addition of James Costos to our firm will help us make North American producers aware of everything Spain has to offer in the sector, something that demands even more attention now that we are in the global spotlight,” he added, saying that Costos will also help meet “the increasing demands of the North American film industry.”
“This type of cooperation and growth is something that James, with his unique knowledge of the industry in both countries [Spain and America],can guarantee for us,” Berdonés continued.
“For months now, we’ve been saying that the production of Spanish-language fiction is at its peak, that we are in the global spotlight, that it is our time. Now we are ready to take the next step and turn all the forecasts of growth into something real,” Berdonés concluded.