MADRID — Burgeoning Hispanic film and TV studio Exile Content, headed by former Univision and Televisa chief creative officer Isaac Lee, has struck an agreement with Spanish publishing house Planeta and Spanish author Elvira Lindo to create a Spanish-language TV series based on Lindo’s most famous creation, Manolito Gafotas.
The move is many ways marks Exile apart as a Los Angeles, Miami and Mexico based studio which is challenging Spanish companies on their home turf for a slice of prestige, highly popular IP.
More from Variety
Developed as a comedic monolog by author Lindo for a radio program in the 1990s, Manolito Gafotas typifies the combination of popular entertainment and social critique which runs through much of the best of Spanish movies and TV shows.
First published in 1994, the now eight Manolito Gafotas novels turn on a chubby, miopic, glass-wearing kid young enough to use expressions which suggest an innocence -“his worldwide world” is famous – but old enough to pick up on social detail. Between the lines, told from the first-person of a loquacious child, Manolito’s chatter paints a portrait of a working class family hard-pressed to pay its bills with Manolito’s father often away from home working as a trucker living in the humble district of Carabanchel, Madrid.
As Spanish-language series have acquired an ever harder edge abandoning at least in premium TV the fiction of the 1990s aimed at all ages, the adaptation may also address now underserved audiences.
“We see this as a unique opportunity to create a four-quadrant show or film, something we haven’t seen much in Spanish-language productions,” said Exile president of content, Daniel Eilemberg.”Part of the magic and uniqueness of Manolito is that it is equally entertaining for young and adult audiences,” he added.
“There is room for four-quadrant alongside more demographically polarized,” agreed Guy Bisson, at Ampere Analysis.
He went on: “As SVoD becomes ever more ubiquitous, the demographics of the customer base are shifting so that today, Netflix’s strongest growth market is viewers in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Couple this with the existing base which still skews younger and skews to having kids and you can certainly see where demand for four-quadrant could come from.”
Lindo already has, moreover, a large and international fan base.
Winning the National Prize for Children and Youth Literature for “Los Trapos Sucios,” the fourth installment of the Manolito Gafotas series. the story of Manolito Gafotas was adapted as a feature film in 1999 by director Miguel Albaladejo which was nominated for a Spanish Academy Goya Award for adapted screenplay, written .by Albaladejo and Lindo. A new Manolito Gafotas movie has now gone into production in Russia.
In all, Manolito Gafotas’ books have been translated into over 20 languages and published in 22 countries: Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Romania, Russia, Taiwan, Turkey, the U.S., Vietnam and Arab states.
Exile’s deal with Planeta and Lindo takes in future TV series and feature films, adapting any and all of the eight Manolito Gafotas novels published to date and new storylines featuring his character.
Exile Content Studio is now in conversations with a potential writer of the series, said Eilemberg. The aim is for the series to be written and pre-production initiated this year. Lindo will advise throughout the TV series project, he added.
“I couldn’t have imagined when I wrote the first Manolito that his adventures would go so far, and now to Hollywood! I have to admit that it’s all quite overwhelming” Lindo commented on the deal.
“With Manolito Gafotas, Elvira has created a unique character and voice in Spanish literature,” said Eilemberg, “His wisdom and humor have fascinated children and adults around the world. The opportunity to take it to a new format and a new generation is very exciting ”
Launched in late 2018 by Lee, along with partners Eilemberg, Tere Pérez, Alejandro Uribe and Julia Saenz, Exile Content Studio focuses on developing, packaging and producing premium, long-form content for the global market. It was behind three seasons of series “El Chapo” for Netflix as well as the critically-acclaimed documentary “Science Fair,” which won an Emmy and an Audience Award at the 2018 Sundance Festival. Exile has also produced “The Traffickers” for Netflix and ten other docuseries and documentaries.