Spanish TV drama producers are thinking bigger than ever, scaling up in a globalized SVOD market.
They are also allying with powerful U.S. partners, responding to a global feeding-frenzy for Spanish-language premium series.
Spanish TV dramas at Mipcom Online Plus underscore this trend. One, “Inés of My Soul,” marks the first move into big-budget international co-production by public broadcaster RTVE, teaming with Boomerang TV, Chile’s Turner-owned Chilevisión and Amazon Prime Video Spain.
Beta Film is presenting “Tell Me Who I Am,” based on Julia Navarro’s global bestseller, co-produced with Telemundo Intl. Studios in partnership with DLO.
In ongoing productions, Movistar, Telefonica’s SVOD/pay TV arm, alongside AMC Studios and Fernando Bovaira’s MOD Pictures, is producing “La Fortuna,” an adventure series created by Academy Award winner Alejandro Amenábar.
Also, Spain’s Paco Cabezas (“Penny Dreadful: City of Angels”) is leading creative development on “The Gipsy Bride,” from ViacomCBS Intl. Studios and Diagonal TV.
The bigger scale is partly driven by creators’ heightened ambitions.
“There’s a revolution in production ambitions,” says Laura Fernández Espeso, corporate director at Madrid-based Mediapro Studio, which produces out of 14 international offices. “Before, Spanish channels commissioned 70-minute series for the whole family. Now creators are moving with the market, thinking on a larger scale, aiming to leap into international markets,” she adds.
“La Fortuna,” filmed on Spanish locations before traveling to the U.S., is scheduled to premiere next year on AMC in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Latin America and Movistar in Spain.
“If you wanted to fulfill Alejandro Amenábar’s vision, you needed the scale, so an American partner [was needed],” sayss Movistar Plus president Sergio Oslé.
On high-end international titles, Mediapro Studio’s most frequent production partners are U.S. companies, such as Starzplay and Pantaya on crime thriller “Express,” from “Locked Up” showrunner Iván Escobar, and Sony Pictures Television on Mexico City-set rapist drama “Implacables — Mexico.”
In the past, Spanish broadcasters retained all rights to series. This has changed for good.
“Our aim is to create content for a global market, retain IP, attract great talent, generate big franchises, and power up our international distribution,” says Mediapro Group president Jaume Roures.
Buendía Estudios, a recently launched joint-venture between broadcaster Atresmedia and Movistar Plus, looks to produce high-end series for third parties, principally global platforms.
“Definitely, there’s a global international market where projects are larger,” says Buendía president Ignacio Corrales.
“The Spanish industry, with highly qualified professionals, needs companies giving talent access to this market and which have enough solvency to remain in it over time.”
Buendía’s standout productions include Amazon Original Series “La Templanza.” A second chance at love story, “La Templanza,” Corrales says, represents “an excellent example of a period series made from Spain for the world that puts our country’s period series at a U.K. level.”
Global streamers are ramping up local production efforts, capitalizing on Hispanic content’s global appeal. Epic adventure series “El Cid,” one of Amazon earliest Spanish originals, produced by Zebra Producciones, bows worldwide this fall.
Launched last year, Beta Entertainment Spain, teaming Europe’s film-TV giant Beta Film and Spanish producer Javier Pérez de Silva, was conceived as a bridge into U.S. and Latin American
“For us, a priority objective is to establish production relationships there,” says BES co-CEO Pérez de Silva.
BES is joining forces with former Gaumont executive Vanessa Shapiro’s L.A.-based outfit Nicely Entertainment to produce thriller “The Tamer,” directed by Spain’s Paco Torres and Mexico’s Oscar-winning cinematographer Guillermo Navarro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”).
The U.S.-Spain relationship is a two-way street: North American companies now hit Spain looking for scripted projects, determined to fund talent and development. Legendary Global struck a production alliance in April with Anxo Rodríguez’s Barcelona-based ESPotlight, targeting the global Spanish-speaking market.