Netflix rolls out its new 2024 projects with an eye toward Latin America and Spain: ‘100 Years of Solitude’ and a documentary on LaLiga

In Los Angeles and Madrid, the streaming platform presented its main offerings for the Spanish-speaking market. The Brazilian biopic ‘Senna’ or the Argentine adaptation of the comic ‘The Eternaut’ are among its major investments

Ricardo Darín El Eternauta
Ricardo Darín, in a first image of 'El Eternauta', an Argentine Netflix series that will premiere in the first half of 2024.Mariano Landet (Netflix)

Like a song or a recipe, a good story is always universal. But a local touch is more appealing than any other. Increasingly expanded streaming platforms face greater and fiercer competition and are looking for stories that both appeal to a global audience and are especially successful in their local markets. They know that something very local can be a tremendous global hit, as was the case with shows such as Spain’s Money Heist and South Korea’s Squid Game. For that reason, in 2024, platforms like Netflix are investing in non-English content with an eye toward the Latin American and Spanish-speaking markets. This year, four of Netflix’s most important premieres are Ibero-American, as demonstrated in two recent content presentations: one took place on Wednesday at its California offices in Los Angeles, and the other on Thursday in Madrid, Spain.

At the Tudum Theater in Los Angeles, fifty members of the media attended a complete overview of the worldwide programming by the platform’s managers, led by Bela Bajaria, one of the most powerful women in the global entertainment industry, the vice president of content and the second in command at Netflix. Obviously, anticipated shows with large audiences, such as the third season of Bridgerton (which will be released in two parts, on May 16 and June 13) and the second of The Diplomat (throughout the year) occupied a prominent place in the presentation. There were also scenes from new releases such as The Gentlemen (directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Theo James, coming in March), Tina Fey’s comedy about the current reunion of a fictional pop group that had been popular in the 1990s, Girls5Eva (in March), and the second season of The Squid Game (throughout 2024). But the presentation soon pivoted to showing the power of other markets; the examples that Netflix highlighted were all in Spanish and Portuguese: three important fiction series arriving in 2024 from Argentina, Brazil and Colombia — The Eternaut, Senna and 100 Years of Solitude — and a Spanish documentary series, LaLiga.

As the vice president and head of Latin America content, Paco Ramos, explained on stage, “two-thirds of Netflix audiences are from outside the United States.” Therefore, the focus is clear. In 2022, according to Pew Research, there were almost 64 million Spanish speakers living in the U.S., amounting to between 15% and 20% of the population; they are a crucial demographic for the country’s leading entertainment companies. “Local audiences are increasingly looking for more authentic content,” he later explained to EL PAÍS. “And it is increasingly successful, travels and continues to grow.” Netflix’s press release highlighted 26 series in a language other than English. Of these, three were Spanish (El caso Asunta[The Asunta Case], LaLiga, Elite in its eighth and final season), one Argentine (The Eternaut), one Colombian (100 Years of Solitude), and one Brazilian (Senna).

None of them has an exact release date, although we know that the Colombian blockbuster One Hundred Years of Solitude will premiere at the end of the year. The adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece — in which the writer’s children collaborated — is currently being filmed in Bogotá and on the Colombian Caribbean coast with a 100% local crew. At the presentation, scenes from the show’s Macondo were shown, as well as images of Colonel Aureliano Buendía in front of the firing squad. Another adaptation is the Argentine The Eternaut, a famous science fiction comic from the late 1950s written by Héctor Germán Oesterheld (who was disappeared with his four daughters on Christmas 1977, under the Argentine dictatorship); the cartoons were illustrated by Francisco Solano López (who died in 2011). Ricardo Darín leads the cast as Juan Salvo. The Eternaut’s filming began last May, and the film is expected to be released before the summer.

Filmed partly in English and partly in Portuguese, Senna stands out in Brazil, as its first trailer at the Netflix presentation demonstrated. The program portrays the story of celebrated racing driver Ayrton Senna; the 30th anniversary of his death at the San Marino Grand Prix is on May 1. The driver’s family participated in this six-episode production, which will star 30-year-old Brazilian actor Gabriel Leone. He was only nine months old when the national idol died.

The platform also showed the first images of an ambitious documentary series about the Spanish soccer league, called LaLiga. It features soccer players and coaches such as Iker Casillas, Antoine Griezmann and Diego Pablo Simeone. The platform recognizes that soccer is not the most popular sport in the United States (although its fan base is growing), while at the same time being aware of the enormous potential that Spanish competition has beyond Spain in Latin America and in a large part of the world. Bajaria, the number two at Netflix, has said she is excited about this content: “I just love soccer,” she laughed.

Carmen Cervera’s life

On Thursday, another Netflix content presentation took place in Madrid, Spain, where the platform highlighted the Spanish content expected for the year ahead. The list of fiction series that will be released in the coming months is already long, with titles such as Mano de hierro [Iron Hand], El caso Asunta [The Asunta Case], Ni una más [Not One More], Clanes [Clans], Keep Breathing, 1992, Asalto al Banco Central [Assault on the Central Bank] and La última noche en Tremor Beach [Last Night on Tremor Beach], as well as the eighth and final season of Elite. Other films include Pared con pared [Wall to Wall], Through My Window: Looking at You, El campeón [The Champion]and El hoyo 2 [The Hole 2].

Two of the biggest stars of Spain’s entertainment industry today, Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrossi, attended the event to present two new projects they are producing for Netflix. They are behind the series Superstar, created by Nacho Vigalondo, which focuses on singer Yurena’s start, back when she still called herself Tamara. As Ambrossi put it, Superstar will be a story about “television as a double-edged sword.” It was the 1990s, and anything could happen on Spanish television, such as characters who were not meant to be famous — who could even be described as freaks — becoming stars.

The first image of the cast of the series 'Superstar.'

“It was a wild moment in television and in Spain. Now there are a lot of biopics that sweeten the character, and I really liked I, Tonya’s wilder and crazier tone”, said Javier Calvo. The series revealed the first image of its cast in their roles; it will demonstrate “how you pay for that savagery and drag it into family relationships. Television lifts you up and at the same time pulls you down.” Ingrid García-Jonsson, Natalia de Molina, Secun de la Rosa, Pepón Nieto, Carlos Areces, Julián Villagrán and Rocío Ibáñez will play Tamara, Loly Álvarez, Leonardo Dantés, Tony Genil, Paco Porras, Arlequín and Margarita Seisdedos.

Calvo and Ambrossi will also be the producers of a new version of the 1972 film My Dearest Señorita, directed by Jaime de Armiñán, who cowrote the script with José Luis Borau. The original film starring José Luis López Vázquez was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1973. The Javis, who have not yet announced the project’s cast or director, say that it will be an update of the story. “Times have changed, and we think it’s a good time to revisit this story, a wonderful mainstream story of gender identity and love. The creative challenge is how far we can update it without losing its essence,” they said.

The last big announcement of the day had Baroness Thyssen, Carmen Cervera, as the main character. She will be the focus of a documentary series in which she will narrate her story and, according to Netflix’s official note, answer “many questions that the public has been wondering about for years.” In her brief appearance at the presentation, the baroness said that the project stems from her conviction that this is the moment to tell her life story from the beginning. The production company Komodo Studio — which created I Am Georgina (this program has confirmed a third season, focusing on her stay in Saudi Arabia) — will be responsible for the project.

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