SAN SEBASTIAN — In a first big deal to be announced during this year’s San Sebastian Festival, Madrid-based The Mediapro Studio, one of Europe’s biggest independent and international creation-production-distribution powerhouses, has acquired Cimarrón, the Uruguay, Argentina and Mexico-based production house and services company.
Of “highly significant value,” TMS said Friday, the deal looks set to consolidate TMS’ presence in Latin America and beyond. In the region, in its earliest talent deal, TMS acquired Argentina’s Oficina Burman in 2018, headed by filmmaker Daniel Burman who plays a further double role at TMS as head of content U.S. and as one of TMS’s leading creators, show running Amazon’s Prime Video title “Yosi, the Regretful Spy,” a major hit at 2022’s Berlinale Series.
Cimarrón’s integration in The Mediapro Studio follows on that of Spanish comedy powerhouse El Terrat and production alliances with Penelope Cruz’s Moonlyon, Mexico’s ViX, Turkey’s Mediapym, Belgium international format distributor BE-Entertainment and L.A.-based Wild Sheep Content, headed by former Netflix intentional honcho Erik Barmack, which has built in record time a global streamer client list on international series as he has also driven forcefully into the production in Mexico of Spanish literary IPs.
Following on the acquisition, Cimarrón founders Hernán Musaluppi, Diego Robino and Santiago López will continue to head up the company, which will function with “total creative freedom ,” The Mediapro Studio CEO Laura Fernández Espeso told Variety.
No price nor exact shareholding percentage has been revealed, though the latter looks like at least a majority stake.
The acquisition links two of the fastest-growing companies based out of the Spanish-speaking world but with much larger ambitions, and is a union of like-minded companies.
Both launched in 2018, collecting Mediapro’s multiple production companies under one umbrella TMS hit the ground running with 34 scripted series in various degrees of production worldwide.
TMS already runs offices in Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay, New York and Miami, as part of production productions around the globe which have grown from 11 on launch to now 24.
That said, Cimarrón brings a lot to the table for The Mediapro Studio. One key element is a great taste for talent, Musaluppi figuring as a leading light of the New Argentine Cinema, cutting his teeth associate producing refined arthouse titles such as Lisandro Alonso’s Cannes 2001 Un Certain Regard player “La Libertad” before also branching out to also producing more mainstream fare.
In a mark of just how far Cimarrón has grown in just five years, this year at San Sebastian, Cimarrón Cine produced Paula Hernández’s open art-house “The Ravishing Wind,” which opens San Sebastian’s Horizontes Latinos, and co-produced the singular real-life musician biopic “The Blue Star,” a buzz title in San Sebastian’s biggest sidebar New Directors. Moreover, it delivered production services on J.A. Bayona’s “Society of the Snow,” confirmed Thursday as Spain’s Oscar entry and one of Netflix’s biggest plays for next year’s Academy Awards.
Underscoring its production range, Cimarrón Cine also co-produced “Extorsion” – backed by Warner Bros. Discovery Latin America’s Particular Crowd, Oscar winner Juan José Campanella’s 100 Bars, and “Argentina, 1985” producer Infinity Hill – and Argentina’s biggest box office hit of early 2023.
At the same time, however, Cimarrón, a company of large drive, seized the opportunity of Uruguay’s early emergence from COVID-19 in June 2020 to leverage the country’s stable currency, security, tax breaks and relative low costs to power up a production services business working on title from global streamers – Amazon’s Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, Netflix – which earned the platforms ’ trust.
Latest production services include Prime Video’s “LOV3,” “LOL” and “Dom” and Disney Star+’s “Impuros” Seasons 2 and 3 and “Insania.”
Cimarrón also provided services in Uruguay on The Mediapro Studio’s Prime Video series “Yosi, the Regretful Spy.”
“When we worked together on ‘Yosi,’ their whole production design was hugely creative in how they approached it, their methodology. They’re people who know how to read, interpret and produce content,” Fernández Espeso recalled.
“Cimarrón brings new creative talent of the highest order to our productions, and a production capacity of the highest quality. Together we aim to create projects targeting international markets, not just Spanish-speaking territories but the whole world,” she added.
After “Yosi,” TMS and Cimarrón began to talk pretty immediately about how to join forces. “When we first talked, at MipCancún, we realised that behind Mediapro is a philosophy, one of collaboration, which was what really interested us,” said Robino. “The deal is a catalyst. It allows us access to TMS talent, and the worldwide network of a benchmark company, taking us even more onto an international stage.”
Approaching a big Spanish star for a project, it will now be far easier to do so hand-in-hand with The Mediapro Studio, he added.
“Cimarrón was born out of a necessity to collaborate in order t0 grow,” said López. “Now we’ll be able to learn how to grow hand in hand with a studio. TMS is a giant company but when we chat with Laura she talks as equal to equal.”
“The new link puts us under pressure and we love pressure,” said Musaluppi. “There’s some challenge in my particular case, coming from cinema, to learn how to move forward, to maintain a production line but shaped to market necessities, given that, with the passage of time, the possibilities and models and players are evolving.”
That is a journey best made with partners, a philosophy The Mediapro Studio and Cimarrón have put and are now again putting into practice.