New shingle plots way into ‘Labyrinth’

Del Toro, Cuaron team on production company

Mexico’s golden boys Guillermo del Toro (“Hellboy”) and Alfonso Cuaron (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”) are teaming up with long time collaborators/ producers Frida Torresblanco and Bertha Navarro to form a production shingle.

Still nameless, the company aims to foster Spanish and English-language pics in Spain. First pic to fall under banner is del Toro’s dark fairy tale “Pan’s Labyrinth,” slated to start shooting in Madrid and northern Spain in July.

Wild Bunch has signed on to handle worldwide sales of the pic, budgeted at $14.5 million. Spain’s private net Telecinco has put up most of the coin. Cast includes Spanish thesps Maribel Verdu, Sergi Lopez, Ariadna Gil and Alex Angulo.

“We want to support first-time filmmakers from Mexico, Latin America and Europe, particularly in Spain,” said scribe/helmer del Toro, whose illustrations for “Pan’s Labyrinth” are themselves notable works of art.

Del Toro is developing an English-language pic based on Alexandre Dumas’ literary masterpiece, “The Count of Monte Cristo,” which he would like to shoot in Spain under the new banner. Company is coproducing $3.8 million ghost story “El Orfanato,” (The Orphanage) with Spain’s Rodar y Rodar. Pic is the debut feature of Spanish newcomer Juan Antonio Bayona.

Del Toro, Cuaron and Navarro will continue to nurture separate projects under their own banners. Both helmers also have studio commitments to juggle. Del Toro has just turned in the screenplay for “Hellboy II” to producer Revolution Studios.

Cuaron is prepping several projects under his new shingle with a three-year first-look deal at Warner Bros., the newly dubbed Esperanto. He also has “68,” a drama based on the Mexican student riots of 1968, in development at Anhelo Prods, a shingle he formed with Guadalajara-based producer Jorge Vergara.

Del Toro and Navarro are partners in Tequila Gang, which is developing three pics by Mexican newcomers. First pic out of the gate is “Objetos Insignificantes,” the directorial debut of Andrea Martinez.

“It’s important to help create a new generation of filmmakers,” said Del Toro and Cuaron, who have been friends for 17 years.

Both have plans to coproduce with another successful pal, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“21 Grams”) who will next direct “Babel,” starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Gael Garcia Bernal.

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