Disney Executives Highlight Impact of Original Production at MIP Cancun


Kicking off MIP Cancun, Elizabeth Bowen-Tombari, editor of TV Latina, moderated the panel The Walt Disney Company Latin America, producing local originals for the world, during which Mariana Pérez and Leonardo Aranguibel talked about the creative process and the importance of local productions with international impact.

The conversation began with Bowen-Tombari asking about the experience they have acquired over the years as pioneers of original productions in Latin America. “The company started local productions over 20 years ago, participating in projects led by a team that is still helmed today by Fernando Barbosa [senior VP, general manager for media networks production, distribution and acquisition] and with the long-term vision of Diego Lerner [president of The Walt Disney Company Latin America], who 22 years ago bet on local production when nobody thought it would be the future,” said Aranguibel, VP, head of production operations and strategy at the company.

He added that the company started working as co-producers in telenovelas and other projects, “and we evolved until today, during this wonderful period which we call the platinum era of television, with original productions and great projects.”

The conversation then turned to how the industry has changed. The company started out producing for its channels and now also develops content for Disney+ and Star+. Pérez, VP, head of development and production, said that the dynamics in these processes have evolved because “it is necessary to adapt to consumer habits that are constantly changing. So, dynamism, adaptation and creativity are three words that we are currently experimenting with in the industry.”

She added: “It is important to emphasize that there is something that remains over time. Beyond the evolution of the user and the viewer, we continue focusing on local stories. In our main markets, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Chile, we look for the essence of each region. Each one has its history, culture and background. That’s the most important thing for us, to continue to deepen those stories with creativity.”

Regarding original productions for Star+, Bowen-Tombari asked about Santa Evita, a production that generated lots of buzz, and the origin of the show that had begun at MIPCOM years prior when the company acquired the book rights.

Santa Evita is a story that has been going on for many years,” commented Pérez. “It started at Fox with a wonderful team that began with the acquisition of the book rights. It’s an incredible narrative that was filmed during the pandemic and premiered with impressive success, not only in Argentina but in the rest of Latin America. It was one of the first milestones that marked the history of Star+, which was later followed by El encargado, Limbo, and we are proud of the result and the entire process. This is our aim: making local stories that have relevance throughout Latin America.”

On the Disney+ side, Aranguibel highlighted the stories that the company develops for the streaming platform, which “are the hallmark and distinction of our brand, which will be 100 years old in 2023,” he said. “We have had some international successes beyond our region.”

The conversation concluded with Bowen-Tombari asking about the company’s readiness to welcome unique and distinctive ideas with new voices. “Always,” agreed Pérez and Aranguibel. “It has always been a priority of our leadership that we work with the best talent available in the market where we operate,” Aranguibel said. “There’s no way to tell local stories if you don’t have the best local talent and creativity in front of and behind the camera. That’s our mission.”

Pérez and Aranguibel then presented previews of some of the company’s upcoming original productions, including El mantequilla, Horario estelar, Santo maldito and a comedy starring Robert De Niro.