Pairing two of the most iconic figures on the Spanish-language business scene, actress-producer Kate del Castillo, star of Telemundo smash hit “La Reina del Sur,” is teaming with former Netflix VP Erik Barmack to produce and star in a womanhunt thriller.
Provisionally entitled “Cold, Dead Hands,” a title that may well change, the movie is set up at Del Castillo’s Cholawood Productions, Barmack’s Wild Sheep Content, both in L.A., and Park City-based Top Dead Center Films, headed by Gary and Julie Auerbach, creators of the film. Gary Auerbach (“Hampton High Revealed”) directs.
The film went into production on Jan. 4, shooting in Utah. It opens with Del Castillo’s character waking up in a log cabin in deep forest, having been drugged and abducted. A message on a stereo tells her to press “play.” “I’m a hunter,” a voice says, explaining she’s been placed there because she’s a “worthy prey.” There’s a snow mobile five miles from the cabin. If she makes it to that, she wins. There’s no civilization around and nothing in the cabin of value to her, the voice warns. But he’ll give her a couple of minutes heads start.
Co-starring Marc Blucas (“The Fix”), the film naturally packs multiple twists and a backstory about why Del Castillo’s character is such a worthy prey and the moral choices she had to make to escape the first time round.
The movie is written by Julie Auerbach (“Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County”) as well as Kevin Tavolaro (“Josie Jane: Kill the Babysitter”) and co-written by Blucas. Del Castillo, Barmack, Cholawood’s Carmen Cervantes, the Auerbachs and Beck Media’s Todd Beck serve as executive producers.
This is “the story of a woman who lives through unspeakable hardships in her life yet she identifies as a survivor, not a victim,” Del Castillo told Variety, adding that her character shows “a tremendous amount of strength, courage, intelligence and compassion, all admirable traits innate to our culture” and that she “personally relates to this character particularly in how she overcomes her fears and refuses to let her past define her.”
“Cranking up the peril of a true survivor for a heart-stopping 90 minutes makes the return to reality of our crazy world a bit more comfortable,” said Julie Auerbach. “That’s what inspired the over-the-top intensity of the story and Kate delivers in every scene, she’s amazing. I hope audiences worldwide will enjoy the ride.”
“Kate’s incredible emotional range glows even brighter when set against the backdrop of the chilling and snowy Utah mountainside where we are shooting,” added Gary Auerbach. “We’re less than a week into the shoot, and I already can’t wait for the premiere.”
The movie catches Del Castillo coming off “Bad Boys for Life” where she stars opposite Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and Del Castillo’s starring role in “La Reina del Sur” Season 2. During its transmission, ending July 2019, the sophomore season kept Telemundo broadcast network among the top 3 networks in the U.S. regardless of language in the adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 demos in the 10 p.m. Monday-Friday berth.
Led by “Money Heist” (“La Casa de Papel”) which Barmack brought to Netflix, non-English language series now cross over with some regularity from local into international. The international market has Hollywood blockbusters and arthouse movies intended for small but global audiences.
“There’s a space, however, in the market for some poppy, genre films intended for both local and international. I just haven’t seen a lot of them,” said Barmack.
“You don’t get titles with, say, a Mexican star that is a global presence, spoken half in Spanish, half in English but made out of the U.S. that is a really fun thriller,” Barmack added. “It’s an interesting place to play.”
“Bilingual films and series are more accepted as our population continues to flourish. Our food, music and traditions have become a part of the mainstream, and we are a consistent powerful spending force in this nation’s economy, so Hollywood is taking notice,” Del Castillo said, citing “Bad Boys For Life” where she advocated for her character to speak Spanish, since she was Mexican, though the film was in English.
“Thankfully they agreed as they realized that it was more organic to the character, more authentic. I believe that’s increasingly what audiences are demanding.”
Holding down a development deal with Mexico’s EndemolShine Boomdog, Cholawood’s mission is “to create high quality content with original concepts, both in English and in Spanish, that include strong and positive female and Latino characters while maintaining a mainstream appeal,” Cervantes said.
She added: “We would like to see Latinos in key roles with multiracial casts, as well as in creative and technical positions. It is particularly important for us to highlight the unheard stories and unique perspectives of women and Latinos residing all over the world.”
Having forged a strategic alliance with The Mediapro Studio, Barmack has series projects in development with Stephen King, Nicholle Kobi and Mirka Andolfo, as well as a small screen adaptation of Scandinavian crime writer Emelie Schepp’s “Marked for Life.”