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Del Toro effect lifts films

Sales of pics from Spain and Latin America pick up

BERLIN — Berlinale buyers searching for the next “Pan’s Labyrinth,” following the success of the Guillermo del Toro pic, gave an unexpected leg up to Spanish pic sales.

Wild Bunch sold Spain’s hottest sales ticket, Jose Antonio Bayonas’ ghost tale “The Orphanage,” to Picturehouse Stateside. Pic was co-produced by Del Toro.

By market end, “Santos,” a super-hero spoof from Chile’s Nicolas Lopez, also was sparking considerable major territory interest.

Del Toro hasn’t anything to do with “Santos,” but, budgeted at $6.4 million, it’s one of the most ambitious movies to come out of Latin America this year. And its mix of auteur vision and U.S. pop culture sensibility recalls Del Toro’s style.

Pic was repped at Berlin by new sales shingle Imagina.

“It’s attracting strong interest from major territories such as the U.S. and the U.K. One question is whether we’ll go with a territory-by-territory sales strategy or accept a multi-territory offer,” said Imagina sales director Geraldine Gonard.

In general, despite tough markets worldwide for foreign-language fare, Spanish sales companies scored deals on higher-profile pics at the Berlinale. But distributors bought sparingly as piracy bites ever deeper into theatrical and DVD returns in Spain.

Spain’s Latido saw a flurry of late-market licensing.

ABC-Cinemien picked up Carlos Saura “Fados” for Benelux. Saura’s painterly song and dance film, with standout perfs from Brazilian Caetano Veloso and Mexican Lila Downs, among others, also closed Japan (AMG) and Brazil (Europa).

DVD specialist Maverick took U.S. rights to Gerardo Herrero’s “Galindez.”

Alpha bought Antonio Hernandez’s “Oculto” for Germany. Coli Films picked up Tristan Bauer’s “Blessed by Fire” for France.

Sogepaq’s “Summer Rain,” Antonio Banderas’ second pic and the Javier Bardem-produced “Invisibles,” about overlooked conflict and epidemics in Latin America and Africa, both look likely to cash in on their Berlin Panorama berths.

But neither played early in fest, meaning deals will likely be clinched after Berlin, said Simon de Santiago, who heads up Sogepaq, which sells both titles. Sogepaq will shortly announce U.S. deals on two older titles, he added.

6 Sales will also detail deals post-Berlin. Its best sellers, said prexy Marina Fuentes, were toonpic project “The Missing Lynx,” “Alone With Her” and “Antonia.”

As the market closed, Milimetros was closing Germany on “The Magic Cube” and the second part of “Dragon Hill.”

Spanish distribbers stepped up to the plate gingerly. Piracy is hurting in Spain, especially on bigger titles. According to Media Salles figures unveiled Friday in Berlin, in 2006, while admissions went up in France (by 8%) and Germany (7%) last year, they dropped 5% in the U.K. and Spain, which, unlike the U.K., already had a weak 2005.

Spain’s mainstream distribbers largely let Berlin go by. Neither Manga nor Filmax bought films.

“There were few new titles. And with broadcasters hardly picking up indie titles and piracy it’s not a time to go wild,” said Manga prexy Luis de Val.

“The market was completely unnecessary,” said Notro CEO Adolfo Blanco, who made just one buy: “Brideshead Revisited” from Hanway.

Spain’s arthouse sector saw greater traction: Spain’s arthouse auds are holding up, at least on select titles.

Alta closed Spain on Morgan Spurlock’s Osama bin Laden doc from Wild Bunch, having acquired “La Vie en rose” from TF1 Intl. earlier in the fest.

Vertigo took two from Fortissimo: Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Stones doc, and Wong Kar-wai’s “Ashes of Time” Redux.

Golem bought five pics: “Desert Dream,” “2 Days in Paris,” “Irina Palm,” “Tuya’s Marriage” and “Breath.”

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