Newen, the production-distribution unit of TF1, France’s biggest broadcast network, has acquired a minority stake in Spain’s Kubik Films, the ambitious production label owned and operated by filmmaking brothers Alberto and Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo. It will also serve as the exclusive distribution partner for their future feature film and TV productions, part fueled by third-party content pick-ups.
“The arrival of Alberto and Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo in the Newen family brings a new burst of creativity,” said Newen international director Philippe Levasseur. “They are multifaceted talents: Writers, directors and producers; and their team spirit matches exactly how we think of Newen.”
Newen has been scouting project-rich companies from around Europe with which to work and was quickly attracted to the promising pipeline at Kubik, which includes several films and series with more than one adaptation of well-established Spanish IPs from other mediums.
“Collaboration with Newen gives us the means to tackle ambitious projects with a strong international appeal for the increasingly globalized market of Spanish productions,” Alberto Sánchez-Cabezudo told Variety.
He continued: “We have always chosen to tell stories which are very Spanish, because we are confident they will be interesting to audiences outside of Spain. Our characters experience classic tragedies and live universal human dramas, and that will continue to be our focus in working with Newen.”
“But one major benefit of working with Newen is that we will now have the backing and the connections to be more ambitious in the scale and scope of our productions, and gives us a new level of access to international talent in terms of actors, filmmakers and co-producers,” added Jorge.
The brothers have acquired the rights to several popular Spanish IPs and have several original ideas they’re looking forward to fleshing out.
Founded in 2016, Kubik Films was established by the Sánchez-Cabezudos’ to make Movistar Plus series “La Zona,” a standout in the first wave of originals from the Telefónica pay TV operator as it powered into production from 2016. The series eventually aired on Starz in the U.S., Canal Plus in France, ZDF in Germany, and on Amazon Prime Video Italia and HBO in Latin America.
Before “La Zona,” the brothers had already established themselves as undeniable writing-directing talents in the Spanish market working wth Bambu Producciones on hit series like “Velvet” and “Gran Hotel,” but most notably on their 2011 original series “Crematorio,” a noirish thriller which lifted the lid on real estate property speculation in Spain. Produced by Mod Producciones for Canal Plus in Spain, it set a new standard for Spanish TV production, more in line with what was being done in cinema at the time, and anticipating the following wave of high-end, premium content to come from Spain.
Jorge Sánchez-Cabezudo’s origin story, however, is in cinema, where he wrote and directed the three-time Spanish Academy Award-nominated 2006 feature “The Night of the Sunflowers,” a brutal exposé of roiling violence in rural Spain which earned the debutant director high praise at festivals across Europe and the U.S. One major motivation in partnering with Newen is that the deal will give Kubik the resources to go back to the big screen with future projects, something that both brothers are looking forward to.
“We want to go back to cinema, to making feature films, and in the traditional sense as well, not just films that go straight to platforms,” said Jorge. “With Newen’s network of producers and exhibitors, we have numerous alternative means of returning to feature films which will be distributed in theaters.”
Alberto explained that the deal also gives Kubik “more financial muscle and the ability to grow so that we can collaborate with more talent and be able to recruit more talent to work with us.” He looks forward to acting as a platform for future generations of filmmakers.
The brothers are equally excited to work with new talent abroad, however. “One great advantage is that Newen’s guaranteed distribution of our productions strengthens our position in looking for possible co-productions. It lets us keep our IP within the company, and I think that’s one area that Newen is interested in too,” said Jorge.
Another major contributor to their decision was the freedom to develop projects, and the time with which to do so that backing from a company like Newen offers. Instead of spending every working hour on projects which are already financed and in advanced stages of development or production, the brothers will be able to experiment, to brainstorm and to come up with some ideas that don’t work out in the long-term, without having to worry about wasting time.
“Newen’s investment in us not only allows us to produce the most developed projects we’ve got, but gives us the resources needed to keep coming up with new ideas, and gives us the time necessary to do so,” said Jorge.
A common theme among the brother’s original works is their flair for mixing genres and a particular talent for telling thriller and horror stories. But, while they are best known for keeping audiences on the edge of their seats, they are not one trick ponies and have demonstrated an ability to excel in other styles as well.
“It is true that ‘The Night of the Sunflowers,’ ‘Crematorio’ and ‘La Zona’ found us in a place that we like and where we are comfortable, but we’ve always done other things, and our work always has a sense of humor to it,” said Alberto. Anyone who has ever spent time with the two will attest to their sense of humor.
“We have some projects now which are similar in style or theme to those productions, that have thriller DNA. But more than sticking with any one style or genre, we want to be interesting,” added Jorge.
John Hopewell contributed to this article.