Comedy marks Hayek's first Spanish film

CANNES — The Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group is in advanced negotiations to take worldwide rights outside Spain and Italy on the Salma Hayek starrer “La gran vida.”

This is the first time in memory that a Hollywood studio has picked up worldwide rights to a Spanish pic as a pre-buy. Pic is in post.

A high-life comedy, “La gran vida” (The Great Life) marks Hayek’s first incursion into Spanish (as opposed to Mexican) filmmaking.

It’s the bigscreen debut of Spanish TV director Antonio Cuadri. Pic was shot in Madrid starting in January. Col TriStar, which has been tracking the project closely for months, is making the purchase on the strength of the rushes, the script and the cast.

Pic is the story of a man on the brink of suicide, who takes out a $1 million loan to blow on a final bout of merrymaking. But just as he’s spent all the money, he falls for a waitress (Hayek) and finds he’s got something to live for. Problem is, now he’s got the loan sharks to deal with.

It is co-produced by Spanish broadcaster Tele 5 and indie BesoBeso Producciones, a new joint venture between BocaBoca Producciones and distrib-exhib Tripictures.

The $4.3 million budget is high by Spanish standards.

“La gran vida” co-stars Carmelo Gomez, the protagonist of Julio Medem’s first three pics, “Cows,” “The Red Squirrel” and “Earth.”

Although sexy, the comedy is relatively innocent by the standards of Spain’s often priapic cinema. This means Sony will be able to pitch it to a family audience, a demographic that the studio could be especially interested in exploring in the U.S. Hispanic market. Hayek has pulling power there and in her native Mexico.

Pic is co-scripted by hot young Spanish helmer Fernando Leon (“Barrio”).

It’s one of five planned BesoBeso/Tele 5 co-productions. Its sale is a considerable coup for both BesoBeso’s Cesar Benitez, an internationally-minded producer, and Ghislain Barrois, recently appointed head of acquisitions and co-prods for Tele 5.

Barrois is gearing up a big slate of pics, co-produced with local producers, such as the Joaquin Cortes/Laetitia Casta “Gitano,” to be presented at Cannes this year.

Charles Lyons contributed to this report.

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