Universal International Studios has struck a deal with one of the hottest players in Spanish-language programming, Buendía Estudios.
Under the deal, the company, whose recent credits include the hit dramas “Cardo” and “Veneno,” will co-develop and co-produce Spanish-language series with Universal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group. Formed in 2020, Buendía Estudios is a joint venture between Atresmedia and Telefónica’s Movistar Plus, and incorporates the in-house player formerly known as Atresmedia Studios.
The company, which is led by CEO Ignacio Corrales, told Variety earlier this year that, in addition to producing for Spain and Latin America, it’s looking to develop projects from the region that are global-facing, in the vein of international Spanish-language triumphs like “Money Heist” and “Velvet.” A slate of around 40 projects across various genres and formats is currently in the works.
The Universal International Studios pact will see the two studios partner on a slate of original programming, and also aim to adapt NBCUniversal formats for the Spanish market.
“This agreement with Universal International Studios is a fundamental step in Buendía Estudios’ strategy to create and produce premium Spanish-language content for global audiences,” said Corrales. “A partnership that unites two complementary teams that have in common the passion and commitment to tell good stories.”
The first project will be a Spanish-language adaptation of the International Emmy-winning format “Safe Harbour,” which was originally produced by Universal International Studios’ production company Matchbox Pictures for Australian broadcaster SBS.
The psychological thriller follows a group of friends who set sail on a yachting trip and later come to the aid of a broken-down boat with asylum seekers on board. The thought-provoking show explores themes of friendship, trust, justice and the universal struggle experienced by refugees all over the world.
Sonia Martínez, editorial director of Buendía Estudios, added: “In an increasingly globalized world in which real events cross borders, we have the chance of translating this reality into fiction that, without losing its universal interest, reaches the viewer with a unique and differential local flavor. We are very excited about this first project and the opportunity of bringing ‘Safe Harbour’ to new Spanish-speaking audiences.”
Universal International Studios president Beatrice Springborn, whose role was this week made permanent, said: “As a studio, we pride ourselves on telling human and daring stories, which reflect the world we live in and celebrate local sensibility and nuance. Working with the best-in-class storytellers and talent at Buendía Estudios will enable us to deliver on our commitment to create more local language programming that promises to captivate and entertain audiences worldwide.”
Enrique Guillén, executive VP of commercial strategy and international development for NBCUniversal Formats, added: “Buendía Estudios is a leading supplier of premium Spanish-language content. We are thrilled to enter into this partnership and to start working together on a project with the immediacy and importance of Safe Harbour, tackling some profound human themes that bind us all together.”
This deal builds on Universal International Studios’ slate of local-language original programming and format adaptations, which includes “Supertitlán,” a Spanish-language adaptation of NBC workplace comedy “Superstore.” The series is a co-production with sister studio Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group and Dopamine in Mexico.