Argentine Academy Award winner Juan José Campanella (“The Secret in Their Eyes”) is planning “Outlaw,” a reboot of El Zorro, inspired by his take on the historical figure behind the legend, Joaquín Murrieta, the director announced at an online presentation of Viacom International Studios 2020-21 slate.
Part of his first-look deal with Viacom International Studios, “Outlaw” will be “told with much more realism,” he added.
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Campanella also announced further details of drama-thriller series “Los Enviados,” which looks like the first title to go before the cameras from his first-look deal with VIS, announced last May.
Led by Pierluigi Gazzolo, president, Studios and OTT, ViacomCBS Networks International, VIS top executives also used the presentation to announce renewals and deliver an update on a swathe of new titles announced over the last few months.
Murrieta is still portrayed by some sources as a petty horse thief. Campanella, however, is taking a different tack, framing the figure in a broader historical context.
“Murrieta enters in action when California, which was Mexican, is annexed as part of the U.S. [in 1848],” Campanella said.
He added: “Mexican citizens suddenly became foreigners, and begin to be pretty badly treated with punitive taxes and the expropriation of their lands. Murrieta was one of the first Mexicans to rebel against that. He became the first ‘terrorist,’ you might say, in the U.S.”
“Outlaw” is written by Adrián Cruz.
Season 1 of “Los Enviados” will be set in a hamlet in Yucatán, Mexico. “As the saying goes, ‘small village, big hell,” Campanella said.
The series’ protagonists, two priests – one from Spain, the other from Mexico, both schooled in science, medicine and law – are dispatched around the world by the Vatican to investigate alleged miracles. “That can take them to pretty dangerous places,” Campanella said, describing the series as a crime investigation thriller with “mystic and fantasy elements, and highly challenging visuals and plot.”
In further news, VIS is teaming with The Mediapro Studio to produce Season 2 of tween telenovela “Club 57” for Nickelodeon Latin America, said Federico Cuervo, SVP and head of VIS Americas.
It has also renewed for a fifth season Nickelodeon teen soap “Spotlight,” set at a Berlin school of arts and produced by UFA Serial Drama, said Laura Abril, SVP, head of VIS EMEA.
The new titles join a slate that reflects the robust rampup of production at ViacomCBS International Studios in the space of just three years. In 2020, VIS will add more than 25 productions to its slate, making for 2,500 hours produced from its early 2018 launch. It has 45 projects in development, said Gazzolo.
To illustrate VIS’ breadth – in production and distribution – Cuervo screened a short promo of recent releases: One was black comedy “R,” produced by VIS and SVOD platform Claro Video, starring Mauricio Ochmann (“El Clon”) and debuting in Latin America on April 27 on Paramount Network and on May 7 on Claro Video.
“Ana,” by contrast, is a comedy-drama produced by Mexico’s Argos Comunicación and VIS, starring Ana de la Reguera as a semi-made-up version of herself, which premiered on April 20 on Comedy Central, while streaming on PantaYA for the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Bowing May 20 on Telefe, the Argentine broadcast network, and then on Argentine cable network Cablevision’s Flow SVOD service a day later, “Los internacionales,” also showcased, is a true-facts-based to-catch-a-thief thriller set largely in 2002 Argentina and starring Colombia’s Juan Pablo Shuk and Argentina’s Cecilia Roth.
Also featured in the promo reel, “Homens?” from Brazilian online comedy troupe Porta Dos Fundos, satirizes contemporary male 30something crisis. It first aired on March 18 on Brazil’s Comedy Central, then on Amazon Prime Video.
From Spain, Abril screened a teaser trailer of sentimental dramedy “El día menos pensado,” about a group of people from all walks of life – even Mexico in the case of a down-on-his-luck musician played by Alfonso Herrera, whose featured scene delivered the biggest laugh of the whole VIS presentation – who resort to group therapy to get over the death of their partners. “Elite” producer Zeta Studios will co-produce.
Brief though the videos were, they nail much of VIS’ DNA. Almost all the shows are co-productions, near always with premiere production companies in Latin America and Spain. The series are made by or frame some of the biggest talents and stars in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world; they boast a myriad distribution outlets.
As Guillermo Borensztein, VIS Americas VP of sales contents and co-production, commented, analyzing VIS strategy, VIS has made over 20 co-productions in the last two years and has the “power to define the commercial cycle of contents, whether releasing on our platforms, distributing with third-parties, or on third-party platforms.”
ViacomCBS’ shares jumped early May after first-quarter results announcement on the back of growth in streaming and an expanded carriage deal with YouTube TV.
VIS’ strategy going forward looks, however, to reflect the strategic priorities which ViacomCBS outlined in its February earnings report: Accelerating streaming momentum; “maximizing the power of content;” increasing revenues in distribution, ad sales and content licensing.
Going forward, Borensztein said on Friday, VIS will look to penetrate new territories, such as Africa; continue the sale of formats for U.S. re-versioning, such as YA sci-fi thriller “Dani Who?” to Nickelodeon; and explore new lines of business.
VIS already has its pedal to the metal in Spanish-language content production, Friday’s presentation suggested.
Abril said VIS EMEA had a “multitude of projects in development” and showrunners would soon be announced on a bio-series of Spanish boxer Poli Díaz and on a small-screen adaptation of best-selling Spanish novel “La novia gitana,” produced with Endemol Shine’s Spanish production house Diagonal TV.
Cuervo added that half-hour series “Mentiras pasajeras” was advancing in development with Pedro and Agustín Almodóvar’s El Deseo; and Viacom would soon confirm new series makeovers of classic Paramount movie titles in the wake of the success of “To Catch a Thief.”
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