Madrid-based Onza, producer of hit Spanish series “The Department of Time” and Amazon Prime Video romantic comedy “Little Coincidences,” is expanding into the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic markets, establishing a Miami-based subsidiary, Onza Américas.
CEO and co-founder of Onza with its executive president José María Irisarri and Nicolás Bergareche, Gonzalo Sagardia has been named Onza Américas CEO.
A reaction to “the proliferation of content platforms” avid for Spanish-language content, Onza announced Tuesday in a press statement, Onza Americas is launched in partnership with former Fox Television Studios president Emiliano Calemzuk, and Vincenzo Gratteri, ex-content director at Patricio Wills’ Miami and Mexico-based W Studios.
Calemzuk and Gratteri will both become minority partners in Onza Americas, the still-highly connected Calemzuk serving in a non-executive role as chairman of the advisory board, and Gratteri taking up the position of SVP of development and production.
Onza Américas will be introducing itself and its first projects at the NATPE Virtual Miami market, which kicks off Tuesday.
Described by Sagardia as “a fundamental step in our growth strategy” – and one of multiple announcements of still further expansion along a U.S.-Latin America-Spain axis that are set to be unveiled during this year’s NATPE Virtual Miami – Onza Américas will export from Spain Onza’s business model of talent participation, whether screenwriters and show runners, in returns on productions.
“Our project in Spain is now consolidating, and we’d like to share it with creators in Latin America,” Irisarri said. “Screenwriters and show runners play an ever more important role in the production business and we’d like them to have an ever larger involvement in their own projects.”
With Onza Américas, the Spanish company is also establishing a beach-head in Miami, fast emerging as the “U.S. capital of the Hispanic world,” Sagardia said. Miami is “a market with ever more co-productions. Many pan-Latin American operators are based there, the platforms Latin American operators split between Miami and Mexico City. It makes sense to have a base there, to have daily information from people analyzing key market trends,” he added.
Miami will also afford far easier access to local creative talent in territories across Latin America when platforms are looking primarily for local products which function well locally and then try to break out in international, Sagardia argued.
Highly eclectic in genre, format and [potential] clients,” said Graterri, Onza Américas first pipeline taps talents – writers and key cast – from Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay:
“Pantallas & Mentiras” — An whodunnit thriller audio series set during COVID-19, which marks Chilean creator Julio Rojas’ follow-up his smash hit “Caso 63,” the first Spotify Studios fiction audio series from Latin America. In “Pantallas & Mentiras,” as the world goes into lockdown, a detective attempts to solve a murder interrogating suspects by video call. Onza Américas is in talks with Mexican actor-director José María Yazpik, star of “Narcos Mexico,” to headline the series and direct, said Gratteri.
“Acapulco Girl” — A musical romcom movie toplining Mexican actress on the rise Cassandra Sanchez Navarro, star of comedy feature “Cindy la Regia” and legit musical “Sugar,” written by “Nosotros los Nobles” scribe Patricio Saíz, co-produced by theater producer Claudio Carrera, and choreographed by 2019 Tony winner Sergio Trujillo.
“Brava” — A scripted series created by Esther Feldman, a head writer on Netflix’s “El Dragon: Return of a Warrior” and Telefe smash hit “Sandro de America” in her native Argentina, described by Gratteri as a premium melodrama with thriller heft, set on Cancún’s Isla de las Mujeres.
“Seres Queridos” –– A feature film written and to be directed by Uruguay’s Guillermo Amoedo, a co-writer on Eli Roth’s Keanu Reeves starrer “Knock Knock,” a high-concept psychological thriller turning on a mother and her 10-year-old daughter living in a post-Apocalyptical work where the spirits of the recently deceased return to suck up the souls of those who loved them. “A brilliant sophisticated concept and atmospheric story, now at third draft screenplay, said Gratteri.
“Consuelo” — A second chance in life dramedy set in luxuried suburb of 1950s Mexico City just before women won the right to vote, where Consuelo, a perfect wife and mother, is abandoned by her husband. That proves her redemption. Starring Sánchez Navarro, created by Colombia’s Juan Carlos Aparicio (“Loco por Vos,” “Agente Ñero Ñero”).
“Untitled Chilean Feature” — An acid social comedy developed by Leonardo Prieto, writer of “Stefan vs. Kramer,” the highest-grossing Chilean film in history.
“Onza is well positioned to capitalize on current trends,” said Calemzuk. “Platforms are spending billions of dollars. When you entrust a production, it’s not just about an interesting idea or who’s attached, it’s who’s gonna sail the tanker.”
He added: “Onza has appetite, creative vision, they’re great idea people but also phenomenal executors and responsible from a budget perspective, one of the best in the world,” he commented, saying that his role was “to advise the CEO on strategy and really make that last final call to take a project through the line.”
Calemzuk currently serves as CEO of 890 Fifth Avenue Partners and is a former CEO of Shine Group Americas.
Onza drama series productions also take in the upcoming series “Parot,” made with ViacomCBS International Studios and Spanish public broadcaster RTVE.
The NATPE Virtual Miami online conference runs Jan. 19 – 22.