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Spain gains mainstream distributor

Wide has 25 films on slate

MADRID — Spain has a new major mainstream indie distribution house: Wide Pictures, headed by distribution vet Luis de Val, former head of Manga Films.

With a E20 million ($31.9 million) initial investment tranche, Wide has tied down all rights for Spain to 25, usually star-driven U.S. titles.

Highlights on its first release slate include Russell Crowe Western “3:10 to Yuma,” Berlin-screener “Fireflies in the Garden,” with Julia Roberts, Richard Gere vehicle “Hachiko: A Dog’s Story” and “Swing Vote,” toplining Kevin Costner.

The slate also has movies with Spanish stars, such as the Will Smith-produced Paz Vega relationship drama “The Human Contract,” and the Richard Eyre-helmed “The Other Man,” which teams Antonio Banderas with Liam Neeson.

Wide doesn’t have output deals. But it plays off relations that De Val consolidated at Manga. A bevy of titles are sourced from 2929, including the Guillermo Arriaga-directed “The Burning Plain” and Cannes competish player “Two Lovers,” and Cannes closer “What Just Happened,” with Robert De Niro, Bruce Willis and Sean Penn.

From Paramount Vantage, Wide has picked up “Last Chance Harvey” with Dustin Hoffman, and the Don Cheadle-Guy Pearce terrorist thriller “Traitor.”

First film to bow in Spain looks like “3:10” in July. Wide will ink with another distribution company for bookings and collections in theatrical, at least in a first phase, and subdistribution in DVD. It will handle TV sales directly.

Spain has been whammied by rampant online piracy. As an upside, prices have dropped for Spain, and a weak dollar has increased Spanish buyers’ acquisition muscle. And Spanish audiences lap up big stars.

“I’m clear that the safest bet in the current climate is bigger films, with stars, which can compete with studio product,” said Wide prexy De Val, who ankled the Vertice-owned Manga in late January.

De Val has initiated talks with both Spanish and foreign investors.

With Spain’s other big mainstream distributors — Aurum, DeAPlaneta, On, TriPictures and Manga — now parts of international or domestic media groups, Wide’s launch will fuel immediate speculation about it being bought up to form part of a pan-European distribution network.

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