Ahead of the streamer’s Oct. 26 arrival in Spain, representatives from several shows commissioned for WarnerMedia’s HBO Max assembled at the San Sebastian Film Festival on Sunday to preview their shows, slated to arrive on the platform on or after its launch.
Four series were presented to an at-capacity press conference held in San Sebastian’s Kuursal conference center, the main hub for the Spanish festival.
First up was “Todo lo otro,” a release day launch for HBO Max staring multi-hyphenate Abril Zamora who writes, directs and stars in the story of a group of 30-somethings living in Madrid who have reached adulthood and found themselves living lives different from what they’d once dreamed. Playing the series’ lead protagonist, Zamora stars as Daphne, pushing middle age, recently single and with a crap job. Complicating things even more, she finds herself falling for her best friend, who himself is struggling for motivation and direction in his adult life.
HBO’s Miguel Salvat, Steve Matthews and Antony Root executive produce with production services provided by Campanilla Films, a Mandarina company.
“One of our obsessions, and mine in particular, is trying to do things which have not been done before,” Salvat explained to Variety after the panel. “In the case of ‘Todo lo otro,’ the series was created by Abril, who is transgender, as is her character. But that’s not what the series is about at all, it’s not even a topic in the show. The show is just about a group of friends, and one of them happens to be transgender.”
One of the most highly anticipated titles teased on Sunday is Season 3 of the award-winning TBS-now-HBO Max comedy “Venga Juan,” called “Vota Juan” and “Vamos Juan” in Seasons 1 and 2 respectively. Continuing the story of its lead protagonist Juan Carrasco (Javier Cámara), a hapless government official in way over his head when he is promoted rapidly up the governmental ladder. Corruption and bribery run rampant, although “House of Cards” this is not, as the politicians of “Venga Juan” are hardly capable and often find their backs against the wall when things go awry.
“Venga Juan” is produced by WarnerMedia and The Mediapro Studio’s 100 Balas, with The Mediapro Studio providing production services for HBO Max.
Whether or not a show already in its third season can attract new audiences abroad remains to be seen. But, with an all-star cast and universal themes that audiences almost anywhere can relate to, there is reason to be optimistic.
“Outside of Spain there is also political corruption, but I think audiences will be amused by the humor inherent to this type of Spanish corruption, so shabby and tacky compared to elsewhere,” said Salvat.
Announced in May of this year, perhaps HBO Max’s biggest bet in Spain so far is “Garcia!”, based on a popular series of graphic novels by authors Santiago García and Luis Bustos which features a cryogenically frozen super spy from the ‘60s, thawed and thrust into modern-day Madrid.
An as-yet unreleased teaser of the series was screened by series creators and writers Sara Antuña and Carlos de Pando and director Eugenio Mira, featuring scenes from both the past and present loaded with bone-crunching action and featuring a noir aesthetic that matches equally well the two periods in which the series unspools.
“García!” is produced by Salvat, Matthews and Root, and features international trademarks of the action-comic genre mixed with a Spanish history that could prove a recipe for success among fans of genre film and TV.
Adapting the Australian comedy format “No Activity,” which also received a popular multi-season U.S. adaptation at CBS, “Sin novedad” was the final show teased on Sunday morning. In total, six cast members took turns on stage to describe their off-the-wall adaptation of the series which turns on three partnerships: Two dispatch officers, two detectives and two criminals, all of whom are waiting for the same shady deal to go down. However, as the night moves on and nothing continues to happen, the partners begin sharing stories with one another, revealing well-kept personal secrets and stories.
A half-dozen of Spain’s most popular comedians: Arturo Valls, Carlos Areces, Pilar Castro, Adriana Torrebejano, Toni Acosta and Omar Banana, star, with other high-profile cameos promised across the series’ run. It’s directed by Rodrigo Sopeña (“La hora de José Mota”) who, together with Álex Mendíbil (“Camera Café”), co-wrote the series.
Salvat and Antonio Trashorras executive produce for HBO Max with Clara Nieto for Warner Bros. ITVP Spain, which also provides production services.