Planeta in new orbit: pic prod’n

TV exec Spinetta named topper

LANZAROTE, Canary Islands — Marking the emergence of a new and potentially aggressive international movie producer in Spain, the Planeta Group, the largest publishing company in the Spanish-speaking world, has entered pic production.

TV exec Emanuela Spinetta, formerly director of Pearson TV in Spain, has been named director of the production department at its film and TV arm, Planeta 2010.

Created in 1999, Planeta 2010 has already moved forcefully to close output distribution deals for TV. At Mip-TV this year, it teamed with German production and merchandising giant EM.TV to distribute a branded children’s animation programming venture, Planeta Junior, in Spain and Portugal.

Co-prod’n profile

Planeta’s pic production strategy looks likely to see it co-producing high-end international projects and playing off its in-house assets.

“Planeta’s extensive publishing rights catalog will be one of our main sources of inspiration,” says Spinetta. “We aim to enter both international and multimedia productions.”

Varied docket

Launched in June 2000, Planeta’s new production entity aims to co-produce some two movies in 2001, as well as six to seven docus and two to three animated series, Spinetta tells Variety.

Planeta 2010’s pic production bow forms part of a wide-ranging, if still early, disembarkment in all forms of film and TV production and distribution. Planeta 2010 is currently co-producing an animation TV series “El gato con botas,” with Catalan toon house Neptuno Films. From 2001 Planeta 2010 aims to produce talk-shows and culture magazines.

Other projects in production include:

  • The English-lingo, futuristic action pic “Avatar.” Budgeted at north of $15 million and drawing for inspiration on Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” the film will be co-produced out of Spain by Marta Esteban at Imposible Films. Planeta aims to draw in international partners as well.

  • “The Future is Wild,” a $5.0 million science docu co-produced with English company John Adams. Planeta has taken 10% in “Wild” against rights for Spain and Latin America.

  • An Imax-format project, budgeted at around $5 million-6 million, turning on an unidentified international legend.

Following an accord in April, UIP will handle Spanish theatrical distribution on Planeta pics. Planeta’s docus will be high-budget, high-quality projects, “emphasizing aspects which reinforce their Spanish identity,” Spinetta says.

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