EXCLUSIVE: Viacom is set to adapt a number of Alfred Hitchcock movies into television series in Latin America and is on the verge of selling two Portuguese-language originals to major SVOD players as it ramps up its content strategy in the region.
The company is officially launching Viacom International Studios, which brings together its Latin production divisions including Telefe’s studios, Brazilian comedy unit Porta dos Fundos and Viacom’s own branded production unit, at the LA Screenings later this week.
The Latin arm of the U.S. media giant is ramping up its production strategy as it looks to take on the likes of Mexico’s Televisa. Pierluigi Gazzolo, President, VIMN Americas, told Deadline, “We want to become one of the largest Latin America content providers.” The company is looking to produce around 1,000 hours of original content across the newly rebranded unit by the end of this year and over the next few years it wants to have close to 2,000 hours of content, including formats and scripts, that it can sell around the world.
The move comes after Viacom acquired Argentinean broadcaster and producer Telefe in 2016 for $345m. While Telefe previously produced a raft of programming in its own market, it didn’t exploit this and rarely owned international rights. It has now taken control of these global rights to allow it to monetize them around the world. “The disruption of the last five years, the way that we think of content, is changing drastically so we need to take advantage of that because we own our content. We have the ability to move that content in any form we want,” said Gazzolo.
Viacom International Studios has four priorities. Firstly, it is looking to produce original content for its own networks as well as striking co-productions, such as its latest deal between Nickelodeon and Rainbow Group in Italy for Club 57, a 60-part time-travelling musical series.
It is also looking to produce original content for third-party broadcasters and is on the brink of closing two landmark deals for long-form content from Brazilian comedy producer Porta dos Fundos. It is negotiating deals with SVOD players for Borges, a show about an import export company that turns into a YouTube channel, and Homens, a Sex and the City-style show for men. Both series will be produced in Portuguese but the company is also working on Spanish-language versions as well as English-language versions for its own Comedy Central channels.
There will also be a renewed focus on formats, particularly looking to strike remake deals for 100 Days To Fall In Love, a scripted telenovela about two women who take a temporary break from their husbands to go party. The 80-part show, which was created by Sebastián Ortega, became the most watched show in Argentina earlier this year with a 50% share.
It could even be remade on some of Viacom’s international networks such as Channel 5 in the UK, Colors in India or Paramount TV in the U.S. after the group set up a General Entertainment Council to share ideas. The U.S network is already working on a multi-lingual Nazi thriller, Cazadores (Hunters), written by Narcos’ Jason George.
Viacom International Studios is also looking to see what Viacom-owned formats from around the world that it could reversion in Latin America. It is currently working with Paramount to adapt a number of Alfred Hitchcock movies into Spanish-language TV series. Paramount Pictures produced Hitchcock features including Rear Window and Vertigo.
On the movie front, VIS has closed a deal with Fox Networks Latin America for Animal, Telefe’s latest cinematic production, written and directed by Academy Award winning screenwriter Armando Bo. The thriller follows Antonio, a man with a perfect life, a beautiful wife, a good job and a bright future, until he finds out he needs something almost nobody is willing to give away.