February 29, 2024

With the writers’ strike over, a new studio brand and new management in part of international, Paramount Global execs are attending Madrid’s Iberseries & Platino Industria, Rome’s MIA market and Mipcom as they talk up their competitive assets and priorities to the international market. 

In one move, five months after it the launch of Paramount Television International Studios in May, Paramount Global’s Darío Turovelzky delivered a keynote on Thursday at Iberseries & Platino Industria.

A rising star at Paramount, with oversight of ViacomCBS’ Argentine and Chilean broadcast networks Telefe and Chilevisión from 2019, Turovelzky himself was promoted to executive VP, Broadcast & Studios, Paramount Global, Latin America in late July. 

His on-stage interview came just one day after Paramount’s U.K.’s chief marketing officer Anna Priest was announced as senior VP and head of Paramount+ for U.K. market, overseeing its “strategic vision” and pursuing growth opportunities.

Nicole Clemens, president of Paramount Television International Studios (PTIS) and Paramount+ Original Scripted Series, will talk at Rome’s MIA market on Tuesday. One week later, Bob Bakish, president & CEO, Paramount Global, will enjoy a fireside chat at Cannes’ Mipcom trade fair, after accepting the event’s Personality of the Year Award. 

Talking at Iberseries’ largest venue – the Auditorium at Madrid’s Matadero, once a slaughterhouse, now a redeveloped red brick strip of chic offices, a cinema and a theater –  Turovelzky was making his first public stage appearance after July’s promotion.

In past few years, with the pandemic and a pause on production plans, some Latin American studio execs have fought shy of committing to ambitions for the production of originals. Not Turovelzky who delivered a clear snap shot in a 30-minute on-stage interview, moderated by Variety, talking about PTIS production in Latin America and Spain as well as Paramount Global’s uniqueness in the region.

PTIS has certainly not given up on international production in Latin America and Spain. 

“Over 2022-23, we had 100 contents in production, 50 greenlit into production. We now have 20 at different stages of pre-production, or shooting or post-production,” Turovelzky said.

After the launch of Paramount+ in Latin America in May 2021, PTIS’ production strategy cuts two ways, said Turovelzky: Creating original content for Paramount+ in territories where it operates, such as Latin America; co-production with third parties in countries where it does not, such as in Spain, where he cites the case of “Mentiras Pasajeras,” made with Pedro Almodóvar’s El Deseo, which bows in Spain on SkyShowtime on Oct. 9.  

How will PTIS produce? One answer is with at least a substantial part of the biggest talents in Latin America and Spain. 

In August 2021, Viacom International Studios moved waves inking an exclusive deal with Argentine Oscar winning writer-director Juan José Campanella (“The Secret in Their Eyes”), rolling off the successful production of a first season of “The Envoys” (“Los Enviados”). 

Turovelzky used Iberseries to meet with Spain’s Morena Films, with which it announced a first look deal in June 2022, yielding as a first result “Las Invisibles,” which bowed in June on SkyShowtime.     

“I believe in the Golden Age of contents, of alliances, strategic alliances,” Turovelzky averred. 

At Iberseries, he screened a show reel of six titles. Three were from Latin America, including Daniela Goggi’s movie “The Rescue,” (“El Rapto”), from Argentina’s Rei Cine, behind Lucrecia Martel’s “Zama” and Cannes 2023 winner “The Settlers” and “Argentina, 1985” producer Infinity Hill, which struck a first look deal with Viacom International Studios in 2020. 

Series “Medusa,” a procedural, is co-produced with NonStop, behind Disney’s big swing “Santa Evita.” Another movie, “Death’s Roulette,” is produced by the Cardona brothers’ outfit 11:11. 

PTIS has range in Latin America, Turovelsky also sneak peeking a trailer from Brazilian biopic “Anderson Spider Silva,” about the MMA legend.

Made with high production standards, “The Rescue,” “Medusa” and “Death’s Roulette” all boast stars – a heavily bearded Rodrigo de la Serna (“Money Heist”) in “The Rescue,” for instance and “Y Tu Mamá También’s” Maribel Verdú in “Death’s Roulette.” In one way or another are crime thrillers, the most exportable of film genres.  

The Envoys
Credit: VIS/PARAMOUNT+/JAIME OLMEDO

“For a story to be a hit, it needs three ‘f’s”: Franchise potential, known figures and a fan base,” said Turovelzky. “It’s important for great content to work well locally, but also to have strategic international or universal vision,” he added. “‘The Rescue’ is based on true events in Argentina, but it’s a thriller which any platform in any part of the world can take it as a universal thriller.”

Local production is of course part of a larger mission of generating subscriptions and engagements for Paramount+. The large question is whether direct-to-consumer can scale fast enough to offset revenue losses from linear advertising.  

Rather than competitors, Paramount+ and linear networks such as Telefe form part of a multiplatform ecosystem which allows Turovelzky to “bring an integrated vision of how to optimize cost control and generate bigger revenues, he argued, citing the case of dramedic telenovela “The First of Us,” which bowed simultaneously on Telefé and Paramount+. 

From the second week, the next four episodes were made available on Paramount+ before Telefe, despite which it still punched a 40%-plus market share on the network and was a hit throughout Latin America on Paramount+. 

“The audiences don’t cannibalise each other, they complement and expand content,” Turovelzky who cited a second case of “El gerente,” a movie co-produced with Infinity Hill and Rei Cine, starring “Pain and Glory’s” Leonardo Sbaraglia, which worked well on theatrical release and on Paramount+.

“What marks Paramount Global apart is the multi-platform ecosystem which allows us to generate new audiences and lines of business; second the content, both global franchises and local content; and the highest quality of professionals working at the company who are proud of their shows,” said Turovelzky. 

After Viacom bought Telefe in 2016, Argentina ranked one year as the No. 1 source of re-versioned series formats in the world, according to a The Wit survey,  

In Latin America and Spain, Paramount can create shows and movies which break out in and outside the Spanish-speaking world. “Death’s Roulette” has worked very well in Latin America and especially well in Mexico, but it’s also worked very well in Germany and Italy, Turovelzky noted. 

A local makeover of “The First of Us,” has just opened in Greece to a bullish market share.

Having bought Telefe in 2016 and a year later hip Brazilian online digital comedy producer Porta dos Fundos, ViacomCBS acquired Chilevisión in 2021 from WarnerMedia and majority interests in Fox TeleColombia and Estudios TeleMexico’s studio operations in both Colombia and Mexico, purchasing them from Disney. 

“We’re a production hub for the rest of the world,” Turovelzky said in Madrid.

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