Zahori already has an initial three-pic slate

MADRID — Listed Japanese multimedia group Oricon has made its first investment in Europe’s film industry, launching a joint production venture in Spain, dubbed Zahori.

Launched Wednesday and based out of Madrid, Zahori’s main shareholders are Oricon and Spanish prodco S2 Intl.

Japanese trading company Zipango and Spanish talent agent Alsira Garcia Maroto also have stakes in Zahori.

“As an audiovisual contents company, Oricon is interested in Europe. It was attracted to Spain by the quality of its partners. This is our first step in Europe and our immediate aim is to consolidate the operation,” Oricon’s representative in Spain, Toshihiko Fukuda told Daily Variety. Fukuda heads Zipango.

“We aim to make some three films a year, taking a stake in a quality European co-production and producing a purely Spanish film. though we don’t rule out productions with Japan. Our aim is to be an prudent, international independent which grows gradually,” added S2 Intl. prexy Stephane Sorlat, who has been named Zahori CEO.

Oricon’s investment in Zahori will give it a key competitive advantage over many of Spain’s undercapitalized indie prodcos: the ability to fully develop projects and not rush into production merely to pull down state aid or TV coin.

Zahori already has an initial three-pic slate:

  • Shooting from April, “La semana que viene (sin falta!),” a EUR2.3 million ($3.0 million) comedy co-produced with Spain’s Maestranza Films and Linea Sur, toplining TV star Imanol Arias as a garage owner trying to dig himself out of a debt hole.

  • A minority stake in Euro co-prod toon feature “Azur et Asmar,” helmed by Michel Ocelot (“Kirikou and the Sorceress”), teaming with Spain’s Intuition Films, France’s Nord-Ouest and Italy’s Lucky Red, ready spring 2006.

  • A Latino musical, co-produced with Filmax, from an original idea by Daniela Fejerman and Ines Paris (“My Mother Likes Women”), who are developing the project.
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