Former Top VIS Exec Laura Abril Joins Spain’s Buendia Estudios as EVP Scripted, Global Business Development (EXCLUSIVE)

Former top VIS exec Laura Abril has been appointed EVP of scripted and global business development at Buendía Estudios, producer of “Veneno,” “Cardo” Season 1 and “Offworld,” in a move which signals the large international ambitions of one of Spain’s key production powerhouses.

Abril will report to Ignacio Corrales, Buendía Estudios CEO. 

Rising through the ranks at Viacom from 2009, Abril crowned her career at the studio as the highest-ranking international TV executive in Spain named in 2019 as head of ViacomCBS International Studios (VIS) for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia. 

Launched in August 2020, Buendía Estudios has already scored heavily in creative terms, producing a Variety Best International TV Show in 2020 (“Veneno”), 2021 (“Cardo” Season 1) and 2022 (“Offworld”). In volume, in 2022, it produced seven series for streaming services, more than any other production house in Spain, according to a study by Madrid-based consultancy GECA.

Six of these were, however, for either Atresplayer Premium, the SVOD service of Atresmedia or Movistar+. Abril’s brings her experience in a post of truly global reach as Buendía Estudios seeks to pivot from a company of prestige Spanish-language hits often commissioned by parent companies to one producing global-facing projects for clients the world over. 

In a first move in this direction, in November 2021 Buendía Estudios kicked off second-phase expansion in Latin America, appointing former Telemundo Global Studios exec Ana Paula Valdovinos as director of production and development for Latin America and U.S. Hispanic, while revealing a first Latin American project, “Swift as Desire.”

Buendía Estudios announced in March 2022 a co-development and co-production alliance with Universal International Studios for Spanish-language series, unveiling a Spanish-language version of UIS’ Australian International Emmy-winning format “Safe Harbour.”  

Abril’s appointment now confirms “determination for growth and reach in international markets” and “a firm bet on expansion,” Buendía Estudios said in a press statement on Monday.  

Here, co-production, opening the door to robust distribution, looks key. At VIS, Abril pursued a highly collaborative business model co-producing in Spain, for example, “Dias mejores” with “Elite’s Zeta Studios for Prime Video and Mediaset España and “La novia gitana,” from “American Gods’” Paco Cabezas, with Banijay Iberia’s Diagonal TV for Atresplayer Premium. VIS also co-produced banner series “Bosé” with Shine Iberia, another Banijay Iberia company, as well as Elefantec Global and Legacy Rock.   

”In a sector in continuous transformation and large competition, the incorporation of specialized professionals with experience is key. Buendía Estudios considers its team to be the company’s principal value and the addition of Laura Abril reenforces our positioning in this sense,” said Corrales, calling Abril’s appointment “a planned step in the strategic development of Buendía.”

Abril added: “In very little time, Buendía Estudios has emerged as a reference for the sector. It’s a privilege to join a company at a time when the audiovisual entrainment industry is at a boiling point.” 

Abril’s appointment will free up Buendia Estudios’ editorial director of series Sonia Martínez – an executive producer at Atresmedia on iconic Spanish series such as “Grand Hotel,” “Velvet” and the original “La casa de papel” – to transition to a high-profile but more creative role at the company.

“Having contributed in the last few years to the consolidation of Buendía in the Spanish and international markets from an across-the board directorial role, I think the right time has come in my life and career to focus on the creation and development of projects and the search for ideas and new voices from a more personal point of view. I’m delighted to fulfil that role at Buendía,” Martínez said.

In 2023, Buendía Estudios bowed animated series “Pobre Diablo” on HBO Max on Feb. 17. Upcoming series for Atresplayer Premium take in the buzzy “Las noches de Tefía,” a comedy-musical by Miguel del Arco (“Las Furias”) set in a Francoist labor camp for homosexuals; “La pasión turca,” an adaptation of Antonio Gala’s erotic novel; and ”Camilo Superstar,” a four-part bio of how Spanish singer Camilo Sesto brought “Jesus Christ Superstar” to Spain.

Family business drama “Galgos” and “The Unit” Season 2, an action drama featuring Spain’s National Police antiterrorist unit, will air on Movistar+. A third season of “Boarding School: Las Cumbres,” a reboot of the legendary gothic mystery thriller, is set for Prime Video.

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