Miramax shops for new Spanish distrib

Lauren Films' fiscal woes undermine longtime deal

This article was updated at 4:00 p.m. PT on Sep. 1, 2003.

MADRID — Miramax is ending its distribution deal in Spain after nearly 10 years with cash-strapped Lauren Films.

Fighting a large debt load, Lauren has just appointed a new chief exec and tapped a e5 million ($5.7 million) credit line. But neither is likely to solve Lauren’s financial problems or deter Miramax from sounding out other Spanish distribution partners.

“The Lauren collaboration, as of now, is over,” Miramax chief operating officer Rick Sands told Daily Variety on Saturday. “They owe us a lot of money. Until such time as they pay us what they owe us, there really is no relationship,” Sands said.

Miramax is understood to have negotiated to distribute its pics through UIP in Spain, with UIP handling theatrical and Universal video.

Spain’s biggest indie pic distribber since the early 1980s, Lauren has brought in 51-year-old lawyer Francesc Guardans as its new chief executive. Lauren founder and shareholder, the feisty Antonio Llorens, will step back from running the company day-to-day.

Loan comes through

Guardans’ arrival coincides with the loan from the Institut Catala de Finances, a bank operated by Spain’s regional government of Catalonia.

Guardans is quoted in the Spanish press as saying that “the renovation of the agreement with Miramax is a priority.”

Trouble is, the new credit line is reportedly far less than the money owed to Miramax, let alone Lauren’s debt, which runs into tens of millions of dollars.

Unless Lauren can further re-finance its ops, Spanish rumors are likely to turn more on Lauren as a takeover target than its chances of re-upping with Miramax.

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