Founded by Borja Pena and Emma Lustres in 2003, Vaca Films has established itself as one of the leading film production companies in Spain and has successfully began producing TV series for the SVOD market
With its often fast-paced action thrillers, Vaca Films has conquered both the Spanish box office and the international market.
"Cell 211", the 2009 prison thriller co-produced with Telecinco Cinema and Morena Films and directed by Daniel Monzón, marked the first major milestone in the company's history. The film drew more than 2.3 million viewers to Spanish movie theaters and won eight Goya awards, including Best Film.
Vaca won the award for Best Horror Film at the 2010 Austin Fantastic Fest with "Kidnapped" by Miguel Angel Vivas,
"El niño" (2014), also directed by Monzón and co-produced by Telecinco Cinema, sold 2.8 million tickets and won four Goya awards.
Later came titles such as "Extinction" (2015), by Vivas, starring Matthew Fox and Jeffrey Donovan, which was marketed worldwide by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions; "Retribution", by Dani de la Torre, with Luis Tosar as the leading actor, which opened the Venice Days section at the 2015 Venice Film Festival; "To Steal from a Thief", by Daniel Calparsoro (2016), or the 2019 multi-award winning adventure film "Eye for an Eye", by Paco Plaza, starring Tosar.
The films Vaca has been involved in have sold more than nine million tickets in Spain and have earned more than €50 million. The international sales agents in charge of distributing their films also include StudioCanal, Playtime Group and Film Factory Entertainment.
This independent company based in A Coruña has played to its strengths and consolidated its position in the market. "We are a production company that makes quality, entertainment films by combining great production values with tight budgets. Moreover, being in Galicia often gives us certain advantages, both in terms of funding and production," explains Borja Pena.
Vaca has built its own label as a thriller producer in both film and television. "This label has greatly contributed to the international growth of the company," acknowledges Pena.
"Thrillers are a genre that cross over very well and we’ve been fortunate that our films have been sold in many countries, and we’ve even seen remakes of some, such as "Retribution" (in German, Korean and English).
Originally titled "El desconocido", the American remake of this film produced by Vaca with Atresmedia Cine is titled "Retribution" and will star Liam Neeson; it has already been pre-sold in the main international territories by StudioCanal.
"One of the countries where our thrillers work best is France," says Pena, "where we have an ongoing relationship with Canal Plus that almost always takes part in our productions."
A Boom in Spanish-language TV series
Vaca Films' answer to the rise of SVOD was its recent launch of Vaca TV, a division that capitalizes on the global impact of Spanish-language fiction. The goal is to carry out ambitious television projects where they can apply all the experience they have gained in the film industry.
Last year brought with it "La Unidad", a TV series directed by Dani de la Torre and written by Alberto Marini, which became the best historical release of original content on the Movistar Plus platform and has been renewed for a second season. Sold by Beta Film, "La Unidad" has already been acquired by HBO Latinoamérica.
"The Mess You Leave Behind", a serial thriller created by Carlos Montero ("Elite") that Netflix released worldwide in December, became Vaca's first original TV production for this carrier.
"We have seen a significant increase in revenue with the television division, and it is clear that the trend will continue along that line. The film industry is going through a very rough patch and thanks to these platforms we are able to grow and create high-quality products at a global level. Both 'La Unidad' and especially 'The Mess You Leave Behind' are TV series that have gone far beyond Spain and are being watch internationally, which is a point of pride for us," he says.
Vaca will continue to have content on Netflix since the latter has acquired the rights to the heist thriller produced by Vaca titled "Sky High" -one of the most successful Spanish films at the moment with more than €1.4 million in sales- for its adaptation to an original TV series which will also be produced by Vaca. Daniel Calparsoro and Jorge Guerricaechevarría will once again be the director and screenwriter, respectively.
Vaca’s plans for 2021, however, will focus on its cinematic side with the shooting of the film "Proyecto Emperador", by Jorge Coira, which it is co-producing with the French company Playtime Group.
"We also have at least ten new projects in the works that will start to see the light of day in the coming months," adds Pena.