Content group iZen has optioned Eduardo Mendoza’s acclaimed Spanish historical novel “City of Marvels” (La Ciudad de los Prodigios) and is developing it as a six-part series. No broadcaster or streaming platform has yet been attached to the project.
iZen’s Zebra Producciones was behind epic Amazon Prime Video historical series “El Cid,” with “Money Heist” star Jaime Lorente, which will return for a second season this year.
Published in 1986 and translated into 14 languages, “City of Marvels” chronicles the protagonist Onofre Bouvila’s journey from small-time hustler to one of the richest people in Spain. The multi-generational story is set against the backdrop of Barcelona’s social and cultural evolution at the turn of the 20th century, as the city shook off its medieval past and reinvented itself as a vibrant modern metropolis.
The deal was brokered by NewCo Audiovisual, the Barcelona-based iZen company formed in 2018 to produce scripted series and international co-productions. The company recently finished filming TV movie “Berenàveu a les fosques,” co-produced with Catalan channel TV3.
Catalan writer Carmen Fernández Villalba (“Servir y Proteger”) is attached to the project which will be executive produced by Alexandre Bas, co-founder and creative director of NewCo AudioVisual.
“ ‘City of Marvels’ is a magnificent book that not only touches on many universal themes — love, ambition, greed — but is also the story of one of the world’s best loved and most intriguing cities,” said Bas. “Barcelona’s rise as a mercantile power between the two World Fairs that it hosted in 1888 and 1929 was extraordinary and serves as the perfect backcloth to Onofre Bouvila’s own rise from poverty to power. With a tip of the hat to ‘Peaky Blinders,’ we will retell this story of political intrigue, corruption, murder and romance in the way that will resonate with audiences around the world.”
iZen was recently commissioned by Netflix to produce its first-ever Spanish reality show “Insiders,” which is now going through a virtual casting process.
“Alex and Joan Bas, our partners in NewCo are themselves an historic saga of producers in the world of Spanish drama with some of the most important series made ever in this country to their credit,” said Jose Velasco, chairman and founder of iZen. Mendoza’s ‘The City of Marvels’ is one of the best novels of the 20th century, combined with the talent they all bring to this project, we believe this will be one of the great television dramas of the 21st century.’
The novel has been previously adapted as a feature film, directed by Mario Camus, and starring Oliver Martinez and Emma Suarez.
The iZen group consists of Imagic TV (Middle East), Zebra Producciones, Europroducciones, Boca a Boca, Hill Valley, Proima and Newco (Spain) and Chalkboard TV and Storyboard Studios (U.K.).