Where can Netflix Spain go after hit show “Money Heist”? On Thursday, it unveiled seven new Spanish originals, including “Feria” from “Elite” creator Carlos Montero, that sketch some kind of answer and roadmap for the U.S. streaming giant in one of its European production powerhouses.
Though Netflix in Spain has seen its biggest global hits in two iconic young adult series, “Money Heist” and “Elite,” now, more than ever before, as it transforms into a general entertainment service, the U.S. streaming giant is mixing it up.
The seven new originals, set for release from 2021, run a gamut from Netflix’s first short format series to its most ambitious doc series ever, “800 Meters,” to two features, a standup special and just one drama series.
“Our vocation is to go on exciting the world with the charisma, diversity and creativity of stories made in Spain, and contribute to maintaining Spanish fiction’s position as an international point of reference,” said Diego Avalos, Netflix Spain VP of original contents. “By the end of this year, we will have released 17 original titles which demonstrate great variety.”
In 2020, at one of COVID-19’s early peaks in the U.S. when many found themselves stuck at home, “The Platform,“ a low-budget horror film from Spain’s Basque Country became for some days the No. 1 movie on Netflix in the U.S., having previously stunned at both Toronto and Sitges film festivals. Netflix will look to draw from the Spanish horror well once again with David Casademunt’s debut fiction feature “The Beast” (“La bestia”) and “Feria,” created by Montero.
The new originals:
*The one drama series in the lineup, “Feria,” is created by Montero and Agustín Martínez, a lead writer on 2019’s “The Hunt.Monteperdido,” a hit for Spanish public broadcaster RTVE. An eight-episode, one-hour fantasy thriller set in a white-walled Andalusian village in the ‘90s, it turns on two adolescent sisters who discover that their parents are monsters. Jorge Dorado (“The Head”) and Carles Torrens (“The Department of Time”) direct.
*Written by Campos and Elías Léon – director of two earlier Bambu Producciones true crime series – “El Caso Asunta” and “The Alcàsser Murders” – three-part doc miniseries “800 Metros” will analyze what moved three youths in northern Spain, all integrated into Spanish society, to perpetrate the Jihadist terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils in 2017, which killed 17 people.
*“The Wanninkhof Case” revisits the court case which followed the 1999 murder of teenager Rocío Wanninkhof. In 2001, 52-year-old María Dolores “Loli” Vázquez, estranged lover of Wanninkhof’s mother, was convicted of the murder despite an alarming lack of any evidence. Her homosexuality is often cited as the reason for the miscarriage of justice. Her innocence was eventually proven beyond a shadow of a doubt when conclusive DNA evidence led to the conviction of Tony Alexander King, a 32-year-old sexual offender with a long criminal history.
*Co-created by Inés Pintor, Pablo F. Santidrián and actor Nadia de Santiago, who also stars in the series alongside Goya-nominated actor Álvaro Cervantes, “El tiempo que te doy” (The Time I Give You) takes place after a breakup and follows Lina (de Santiago) as she works toward getting over her ex, Nico (Cervantes), whose memory consistently worms its way into her consciousness. The series is filming now in Madrid and Andalusia.
*Netflix’s latest Spanish stand-up special “Odio” stars Dani Rovira, the male lead in the country’s biggest-ever local box-office hit, romantic comedy “Spanish Affair.” A recently recovered cancer survivor, Rovira inspires through his own stories infused with a characteristic unfiltered sense of humor.
*Inspired by early Guillermo del Toro Spanish Civil War horror films “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” J.A. Bayona’s debut feature “The Orphanage,” and a love of American genre from directors like M. Night Shyamalan, Spanish first-time director Casademunt teamed with regular co-writers Fran Menchón and Martí Lucas on “The Beast,” co produced by Spain’s Rodar y Rodar. It unspools inside a shack in the middle of nowhere, where a young family spy a chilling presence on the horizon that looms closer and closer each day.
*Another bet on new talent, here creators Daniel López Sánchez, Federico Maniá Sibona and Yago de Torres, short format series “Idolo” centers on a young fan who substitutes his idol, Spain’s biggest music phenomenon. “Pressured by the music industry, Lazaro converts all his life into a spectacle even giving up a real life,” Avalos said in the presentation.
Netflix is still courting established creators in Spain. Among other news at Thursday’s presentation, it announced new cast for “El Inocente,” based on a Harlan Coben novel and written and directed by Oriol Paulo (“The Invisible Guest,” “Mirage”). Martina Gusmán, star of Argentine breakout series “El Marginal,” and Juan Acosta (“Vernon Subutex”) join a main cast led by Mario Casas (“Three Meters Over the Sky”) and Aura Garrido (The Department of Time”).
One answer to what comes after “Money Heist” is another series by its creator, Alex Pina. “Sky Rojo,” his new series, will be made available “soon,” Netflix said on Thursday. Actor Asier Etxeandia introduced new excerpts from the series, about three sex labor workers on the run from the boss of a human trafficking cartel, whom they’ve nearly killed. “It’s like ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ but far more punky,” said Etxeandia, who plays the crime lord.
The Netflix presentation was followed by a panel of Netflix executives and creators, entitled “In First Person, The Power of Stories,” and featuring Nadia de Santiago, Elisabet Benavent, creator of “Valeria,” Verónica Fernández, Netflix Spain director of contents, series, and Teresa Moneo, director of contents, film.
One key debating point was why Spanish series and films had found such success outside Spain. “Spain has a strong culture, which is also highly diverse and creators are passionate, which can prove attractive abroad,” said Fernández by way of explanation.