‘The Captive,’ From Alejandro Amenábar, Rolls, Drops First-Look Still

Principal photography has begun on “The Captive,” a historical epic from “The Others’” Alejandro Amenábar, starring Julio Peña (“Berlin”) as “Don Quixote” author Miguel de Cervantes, a prisoner of Ottoman corsairs, seen in a very first still from the film, alongside Alessandro Borghi (“Suburra”), playing his captor, which has been shared in exclusivity with Variety

Paris and London-based production, finance and sales house Film Constellation handles worldwide sales. Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture is on board to release the film in Spain in 2025.

If Peña look spruce but worse for wear, little wonder. An origins story of the early flowering of literary genius in Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote” and slice of mean street life “Rinconete and Cortadillo,” this story is wrapped in a historical thriller. 

“The Captive,” no ordinary bio, turns on an episode in Cervantes life which was to shape not only his gift for storytelling but a life-long sense that he should have been treated better by Spain’s establishment.

28, a wounded Spanish naval soldier, Cervantes is captured by Barbary pirates. “Faced with a ticking clock, a cruel death awaits him should his fellow countrymen fail to pay his ransom soon; but within the confines of his cell, Cervantes discovers a surprising refuge – the art of storytelling,” the synopsis runs. 

“Crafted from resilience and hope, his stories enthral his fellow captives, and capture the attention of Hasan, the enigmatic and feared Bey of Algiers, igniting a secret affinity between captor and captive. Suspicions rise amidst growing tensions in the city, and Cervantes, driven by an unwavering sense of optimism, devises a daring plan for freedom,” it continues.

Budgeted at $15 million – making it one of the biggest if not the biggest of Spanish films now in production – “The Captive” underscores a new streamer distribution model with Netflix taking Spain in the pay TV window but not the whole of the world. 

Beyond Mod Producciones, “The Captive” is produced by Amenábar’s label Himenóptero (“Regression,” “The Sea Inside”) and Misent Producciones, in coproduction with Propaganda Italia (“Monica,” “Piove”) with the participation of Netflix, RTVE and RAI Cinema and the support of Spanish film agency ICAA, the Generalitat Valenciana and Eurimages.

The budget is seen in the care of the costume design, from Nicoletta Taranta (“A Chiara,” “Rose Island”), across-the-board production values being a large virtue of Amenábar’s last feature, the Spanish Civil War-set “While at War.”

“The Captive” shoots on location in Valencia, Alicante, including its Ciudad de la Luz studios, and in Seville in Spain.

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