New prod'n house starting with two projects

MADRID — Francisco Ramos is ankling as CEO of Aurum, Spain’s second-biggest indie pic distributor and one of its largest mainstream film producers.

His departure, effective almost immediately, will see Ramos setting up his own Madrid-based film production house.

It’s unclear who will replace Ramos, although he indicated that Aurum would honor its distrib deals, most notably an output accord with New Line.

Ramos’ move is likely to shock the Spanish film industry, but is not entirely unexpected.

Aggressive goals

A former head of acquisitions and sales at Antena 3, Ramos set up Aurum as an indie distribbery in 1997, after Spanish publishing baron Antonio Asensio was bought out of Antena 3 by telco Telefonica.

Aurum is owned by Asensio’s publishing holding, the Zeta Group. Flamboyant, energetic, and still only in his early thirties, Ramos spent forcefully on New Line product and third-party pick-ups. With his mind focused on distribution, Ramos’ heart has been set on pic production.

While Aurum has faced alleged cash-flow problems this year and downscaled some of its distribution commitments while maintaining the New Line accord, Ramos’ first slate of Spanish productions has scored heavily with local auds.

Twin hits

Aimed at youth audiences, two Aurum productions — meller “I Will Survive” and chiller “The Art of Dying” — rank as two of the three highest-grossing local bows since late 1999.

Ramos said he already has backing from broadcasters and commitment from directors for pic production.

“I’ll start with two productions from this fall and work up to more, but in the line I’ve been following,” Ramos told Daily Variety.

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