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Plural possibilities in flux as No. 2 ankles

Fernandez departs, leaving film co.'s future uncertain

MADRID — A driving force behind Spanish conglom Prisa’s Plural Entertainment, the first Spanish film company to have offices in the U.S. and Spain, has ankled.

As general manager, Luis Fernandez was No. 2 and ran Plural’s Miami base, where he will remain while he takes a sabbatical.

With prexy Jose Vicuna, Fernandez has powered Plural since its creation in 2001. His exit, attributed to personal reasons, raises a question mark over Plural’s direction.

Shingle was launched as part of Prisa’s international push to take advantage of its financial muscle, long media experience and the increasingly rich Spanish-language market in Latin America and the U.S.

It has seen success. In 2002 it struck a pic co-production and distribution deal with Televisa, which yielded Mexican B.O. hit “The Blue Room” and “A Day Without a Mexican,” which grossed $4.2 million in the U.S. Plural also became the first Spanish company to produce a drama for Univision, “Al filo de la ley.”

But Plural has never developed into the heavyweight production force that might be expected from Prisa.

Beyond publishing, Prisa’s international Latino growth is driven largely by radio, led by Radiopolis, its Mexican radio network joint venture with Televisa.

And the Spanish conglom has had larger fish to fry, such as tending its Spanish newspaper (El Pais) and radio (Cadena Ser) interests, the merger of satcaster Sogecable with Via Digital and prepping a free-to-air broadcaster.

Plural recently inked with Warner Independent Pictures and Spanish shingle Origen to produce drug smuggling thriller “La reina del sur” (The Queen of the South). Sergio Aguero’s Los-Angeles based Andale Pictures is attached to produce.

As part of an exclusive first-look deal, it’s also producing a second show for Univision, “Historias para contar,” a yakker that includes dramatized true-life stories.

The question now for Plural is whether it will concentrate on prestige projects or step up into a diversified slate of productions, as well as attacking the English-language Latino market.

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