Allen ally in Spain

Lauren Films pacts for rights to next 3 pix

MADRID — Spanish distributor Lauren Films has taken Spanish rights to Woody Allen’s next three films while unveiling plans to finance a modern version of Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata.”

The Allen trio is being co-financed by German licensing company VCL Film & Medien with a $75 million-$100 million commitment for the three pics in July. DreamWorks took domestic distribution on the films prior to the VCL deal.

Lauren’s Spanish accord was negotiated by WMA Independents, the indie arm of the William Morris Agency, as part of their overall VCL financing deal.

Antonio Llorens’ Lauren will also distribute Allen’s Venice Film Festival pic “Small Time Crooks,” continuing a distrib relationship with the director that goes back to the Orion-produced “Broadway Danny Rose” in 1984.

Making a comeback

Spain’s top indie distributor for the past 15 years, Lauren Films looks set to make its long-mooted return to pic roduction by co-financing the toga teaser “Lysistrata.” Pic is described as a comedy in the line of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian.”

Budgeted at $2.2 million, pic will be directed by local comedy specialist, helmer Francesco Bellmunt. It is based on German Ralf Koenig’s gay comic version of Aristophanes’ play. Films based on Koenig’s work include Martin Walz’s German pic “The Killer Condom.”

Pic looks like the first in an attempt to move gradually into international projects. Last November, Llorens announced development on two English-lingo projects, budgeted at around $20 million, one a jungle adventure pic, the other a grunge, futurist take on Romeo and Juliet.

Lauren Films took a 9.3% market share, January-July 2000, ahead of fellow indies Aurum Producciones (6.6%) and TriPictures (4.3%).

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