Telefonica Studios to Create Film and Television Content Worldwide

With the aim of becoming a global heavyweight, the studio backed by the Spanish telecom will produce 25 features in the next two years.

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- Spanish telecom giant Telefonica announced Monday the creation of Telefonica Studios, a worldwide content producer that clusters the group's various production activities in Europe and Latin America under one umbrella.

Axel Kuschevatzky, who heads the new venture, revealed the plans at the 61st San Sebastian International Film Festival, newly backed by Telefonica this year.

"We are aiming to increase synergies between the already existing resources Telefonica has in Europe and Latin America and then -- expand, increasing the synergies between the different parts and enlarging the slate," Kuschevatzky told The Hollywood Reporter.

Pushed by legal obligations in Spain and Argentina that force broadcasters to invest in local film and television production, Telefonica has produced eight movies in Argentina this year and five in Spain.

"The concept is to move beyond the law's requirements and create a global brand of movies and TV series," the Argentine Kuschevatzky, who will be shuttling between Buenos Aires and Madrid, said. "We're going to produce 25 films in the next two years."

Telefonica Studios already boasts tight ties with names like Pedro Almodovar, Juan Jose Campanella, Viggo Mortensen, Gael Garcia Bernal, Jorge Drexler and Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu.

Telefonica has produced films like Oscar-winning The Secret in Her Eyes, which Kuschevatzky acted as associate producer on from his time at Argentina's Telefe.

Kuschevatzky said the studio would diversify between small films like Emilio Aragon's upcoming A Night in Old Mexico and Campanella's $21 million 3D animated Foosball, which opened the festival's Official Section.

Other upcoming projects include Pablo Fendrik's El Ardor, starring Garcia Bernal and Damian Szifon's comedy/thriller Relatos Salvajes, starring Ricardo Darin.

Unlike the now-defunct Telefonica Media, which set about acquiring blue-chip companies like Endemol more than a decade ago before going bust, Telefonica Studios will forge partnerships with local companies, like Telecinco, El Deseo, 100 Bares, Plural, Nostromo Films and Historias.

In addition to feature films, Telefonica Studios will also produce TV series like period drama Isabel -- now in its second season -- or Amar en Tiempos Revueltos for its pay platforms Movistar TV and Movistar Play.

In the name of the Spanish industry, San Sebastian festival director Jose Luis Rebordinos welcomed the move and Telefonica's decision to sponsor the Spanish festival.

"Any project that supports and strengthens Spanish cinema is not just important for us, but indispensable," Rebordinos told reporters. "And at a time like this, to be able to count on a new travel companion that guarantees help so that the festival can continue being the must that it is now, is a breath of fresh air."