Spanish telco subsid gets majority stake in top prod'n house

MADRID — Telefonica Media, the film and TV subsid of giant Spanish telco Telefonica, has upped its stake in Lolafilms to take a controlling 51% interest in Spain’s top film production house.

Lolafilms is also understood to have initiated talks to bring in an international partner, quite possibly a publicly quoted German film company.

This would allow Lola to tap further production finance and achieve distribution for its pics in Germany and perhaps other European territories.

Telefonica’s controlling stake in Lolafilms is unlikely to affect the power base at Lola, a company driven by the talent of long-term CEO Andres Vicente Gomez.

New muscle

But, coming through an expansion of Lolafilms’ capital base to pta3,000 million ($18.75 million), the move, like the talks with German companies, is designed to strengthen the filmmaking muscle of Lolafilms as it embarks on the most ambitious slate of English-language pics ever assembled by a Spanish production entity.

These English-lingo pics include Chris Monger’s “That Girl from Rio,” which started shooting in Rio on Nov. 1; Susan Seidelman’s dramatic comedy “Gaudi Afternoon”; Carlos Saura’s period romancer “The Maid of Buttermere”; Manuel Gomez-Pereira’s $12 million comedy “Off Key”; and John Malkovich’s directorial debut, “The Dancer Upstairs.”

Judy Davis and Marcia Gay Harden will co-star in “Gaudi Afternoon,” which begins lensing in January.

These projects are being developed and will be sold out of subsid Lolafilms U.K.

According to Spanish press reports, Fernando Trueba will direct the Spanish-lingo “El embrujo de Shanghai.”

Renewing lines

“The amplification of our capital base will allow us to renew our bank credit lines, bulwark our solvency and usher in international partners,” Gomez told Daily Variety.

Following the amplification of Lolafilms’ capital base, Gomez is likely to increase his share to some 38% of the company. Gomez and Telefonica each previously held 33% stakes in Lolafilms. Merchant bank Gescapital and film director Manuel Lombadero will retain minority stakes in Lola.

(Liza Foreman in Berlin contributed to this report.)

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