Sogedasa’s plan

Spanish distrib house enters exhib'n; sets toons

MADRID — Barcelona-based distribution house Sogedasa — better known under its Filmax Group banner — has entered exhibition, closing the circle on its plans for total vertical integration.

Having built up Spain’s biggest TV library catalog, which currently holds some 3,000 titles, Filmax initiated feature film production in 1996 and TV production last year. This April, Sogedasa prexy Julio Fernandez announced it would invest “the lion’s share” of its production investment in animation.

Major acquisition

Sogedasa-Filmax has made its first exhibition investment acquiring the two-screen, 1,400-seat Cines Publi, an ornate structure on one of Barcelona’s major thoroughfares. The refurbished duplex will reopen on Sept. 11.

Filmax’s rapid diversification is driven by a desire to control distribution channels from acquisition of product through to its screening, said Adolfo Blanco, Filmax’s head of acquisition and sales.

Such control is particularly difficult in theatrical distribution; Spain has the highest number of new film releases of any major territory in Europe — 482 in 1997, according to one recent study.

“Films don’t last long enough for good word-of-mouth to kick in,” Blanco told Daily Variety. “The only solution is to control key screens.”

Toon boom

Sogedasa has now completed the first six episodes of its flagship animation project, the English-language series “Goomer,” based on the comic-book adventures of an intergalactic truck driver. It also has three new Spanish features in production: screenwriter Joan Potau’s directorial debut, “Don’t Breath, Love Is in the Air”; Miguel Abaladejo’s “Manolito Garfotas,” featuring a streetwise Spanish infant; and a $4 million quality drama, “The City of Prodigies” by vet helmer Mario Camus.

Filmax is one of Spain’s most active film distributors, acquiring movies through output deals with J&M and the Kushner-Locke Co., as well as pick-ups from companies such as Artisan (via Summit) and Intermedia. It released 30 films in 1997.

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