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Macho moves into Spanish filmmaking

Exec specializing in local pix

MADRID — One of the most active distributors in Europe’s contracting specialist pic sector, Enrique Gonzalez Macho, has restructured his production, distribution and exhibition interests as he drives into local film production.

Macho told Daily Variety that he will now operate three companies: Alta Films, which is exclusively dedicated to distribution and which Macho owns completely; production outfit Alta Produccion, in which Macho has a 20% stake; and exhibitor Sociedad de Programacion Cinematografica, in which Macho also has 20%. Remaining shares in the latter two outfits are held by four private Spanish financiers, each of whom controls 20%.

Alta Films’ sale of its exhibition assets reflects the need to allow Alta Films to fuel its distribution ambitions as well as clarify financial interests, Macho said. The outfits will operate as totally separate financial entities without a holding company, he said.

Five-pic slate

Following occasional sorties into film production, Macho has now built up a five-pic slate for 1998. They are all local co-productions and are first or second features by Spanish helmers. The pics includes the lonely hearts drama “Flowers From Another World,” Iciar Bollain’s follow-up to her admired “Hello, Are You Alone?” and Enrique Gabriel’s social drama “Wiped Out Footprints.”

Last year, Spain rated as one of Europe’s most vibrant specialist title markets. Alta Films will distribute 40 films in 1998. Some 20 of them will be local pics.

This reflects not only Macho’s personal passion for Spanish films — he has handled seven of the 10 highest-grossing Spanish films this year — but also the growing difficulties distributors have with indie fare in Spain, especially selling titles to free TV, and a desire to own film negatives.

Macho’s exhibition company is the fifth largest such circuit in Spain, owning or operating 105 screens, split equally between multiplexes and arthouses.

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