Big-house drama thrives on prison genre elements

Shown as a promo reel at Cannes and directed by Daniel Monzon (“The Kovak Box”), prison thriller “Cell 211″ follows such Telecinco-backed hits as “The Orphanage” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

Project’s biggest lure, according to producer Borja Pena at Galicia’s Vaca Films, is the screenplay, about two men on different sides of a prison riot. “We feel that it can do well in the international market because of the strength of the script. That’s what makes it so unique, and in turn, marketable.”

“The screenplay told a gripping story, and when placed in the hands of Daniel, we felt it would be a powerful film,” adds Ghislain Barrois, head of Telecinco Cinema.

The film stars Carlos Bardem (brother of Javier) and Luis Tosar, who played the drug kingpin in Michael Mann’s “Miami Vice” and appears in Jim Jarmusch’s “The Limits of Control.”

They join a slew of Galician actors and technicians whose presence triggered $280,000 in subsidy coin from Galicia’s Culture Dept.

Beyond Vaca, Madrid’s Morena Films co-produced with Telecinco Cinema, the broadcast net’s pic production arm. Morena and Telecinco teamed last year on Steven Soderbergh’s “Che.”

Telecinco financed 45% of the $5.3 million “Cell 211.”

France’s La Fabrique de Films also boarded as an international co-producer, with “Cell” preselling to Canal Plus France, not that common an achievement for a Spanish film.

Paris-based sales agent Films Distribution locked up a minimum-guarantee deal against international rights.

Paramount will distribute the film theatrically in Spain as one of its first releases as a stand-alone operator.

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