Viacom International Studios Signs First Look Deal with Ariel Winograd (EXCLUSIVE)

John Hopewell

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MADRID  — Adding to a powerful and still growing talent roster, Viacom International Studios (VIS) has clinched a first-look deal with Argentine writer-director Ariel Winograd whose latest movie, “The Heist of the Century,” has just become one of the biggest Argentine openers in history.

The multi-year pact takes in the development and production of not only feature films – where Winograd has had a large impact-  but also drama series.

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With Winograd, Viacom International Studios has landed one of Argentina’s most popular auteurs who melds romantic comedy or heist movies (“Wine to Steal”) with contemporary social commentary, whether on Jewish communities in Argentina (“Cheese Face: ‘My First Ghetto’”), women’s choosing not to have children (“Without Children,” 2015) or open relationships (“Permitted,” 2016).

On recent form, he also one of Argentina’s biggest commercial directors. Premiering in the winter holidays of 2017, ‘Mom Went on a Trip’, starring Diego Peretti (“En terapia”) and Carla Peterson, became the No. 1 release of the year.

Buoyed by the presence of Guillermo Francella (“The Secret in Their Eyes” a ”The Heist of the Century,” bowed Jab. 17 notched up 100,000 admissions over its first day, the biggest one-day trawl ever for a live-action Argentine movie, and went on to punch 409,270 admissions for its first weekend, according to Ultracine.

“Mom Went on a Trip” also saw remakes in Mexico, Italy and Spain,  the latter, “Padre no hay mas que uno, becoming the biggest national movie hit of last year in Spain earning €14.2 ($15.9 million) for Sony Pictures Entertainment Iberia.

“Our business global strategy is to establish alliances with the best talent in the Americas and Spanish-speaking world,” said “JC” Acosta, president, ViacomCBS Networks Americas.

He added: “We had the good fortune of seeing Ariel’s creative vision firsthand most recently with the box office success of El Robo del Siglo and can’t wait to work together on the next slate of projects for global audiences.”

“Ariel for us is one of the most talented young filmmakers in Argentina. He combines humor with commenting, makes comedy a natural part of any story, does so very successfully and is able to translate in and outside Argentina.”

The Winograd deal adds to an extraordinary fast but organic growth by Viacom in Latin America and Spain over the last three years.

Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) – Americas acquired Argentine broadcast network Telefe in November 2016 and a majority stake in Brazilian comedy YouTube channel production house Porta dos Fundos in April 2017. VIS also holds down an exclusive development-production deal with Juan José Campanella co-writer-director of the Academy Award winning “The Secret in Their Eyes,” and with Spain’s Santiago Segura, writer-director and star of “Torrente” comedies, the  biggest movie series in Spanish history.

Backdoor, Viacom’s export of Porta dos Fundos to Brazil, has proved a roaring success, running up one million subscribers in its first four months. Thanks largely to VIS telenovelas from Telefe – ·Dear Daddies,” “Love After Loving,” “Educating Nina”  – in 2018 Argentina placed more titles in a Top 20 of most adapted scripted formats than any other country in the world.

For Acosta, “Ariel really speaks to our global studio strategy which is creating IP in one region, then expanding it to the rest of the world, and which we’ve achieved with the Porta Dos Fundos franchise, taking it from Brazil and launching it in Mexico,”

He added: “A first step is to really evaluate Ariel’s development pipeline and identify stories that he could potentially direct or that he could just develop, so it really runs the a broad spectrum.”

Viacom can also offer Winograd an immense variety of potential shoot locales – it has production facilities in Miami, in Argentina, Mexico, Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro – and a huge gamut of business models.

“We can produce for our linear channels, our SVOD platforms, such as Paramount in Latin America, and also co-produce with pay YV or mobile partners. It really allows us to be very creative in the business modeling that we create for the partners globally,” said Acosta.

He added: “One key thing for a studio today is not only that you place the content but that it has the right partner, the correct exposure so that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

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