Gomez, Telefonica ink pact

MADRID — Spain’s top indie producer, Andres Vicente Gomez, has inked a deal with the country’s richest company, telco Telefonica, to form a formidable film alliance in production and international sales.

Gomez told Daily Variety that his production banner, Lola Films, will also take a minority stake in a Telefonica rights-brokering company that aims to acquire some 20 Spanish films a year. As anticipated (Daily Variety, Feb. 28), Telefonica has bought 30% of Gomez’s Lola Films. Gomez will retain a 35% stake. With an amplified capital base, Lola Films will produce eight new features in 1997, including the next films by directors Fernando Trueba (”Two Much”) and Vicente Aranda (”Lovers”). The total value of the new production portfolio stands at around $26 million.

Lola Films will also bow an international sales operation, Lola Films Intl., at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

With no agreement in sight to merge Spain’s two direct-to-home digital platforms — the Sogecable-controlled CanalSatelite Digital (CSD) and the Telefonica-led Distribuidora de Television Digital (DTD) — Telefonica’s game plan now appears to be to create a rival media axis to that of Sogecable, owned by France’s Canal Plus and Spain’s Prisa. The alliance with Gomez would form part of this strategy.

Last week Telefonica prexy Juan Villalonga announced that DTD will partner with Swiss company Nagra to develop DTD’s digital decoders for Spain. Telefonica, Villalonga said, will also take up its option to apply for local cable TV franchises in Spain. These will be granted later this year.

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