Fresnadillo, Bayona, Vigalondo pics backed

Spain’s Telecinco Cinema, producer of “Che,” “The Orphanage” and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” has boarded projects by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (“28 Days Later”), Juan Antonio Bayona (“Orphanage”) and Nacho Vigalondo (“Timecrimes”).

All will be co-produced by Telecinco and new Spanish shingle Apaches, headed by Enrique Lopez Lavigne and former Telecinco Cinema exec Belen Atienza.

Fresnadillo and Bayona have two projects a piece, all at script stage. Three pics are likely to be English-language, while the more modest of Bayona’s projects would be made in Spanish, said Ghislain Barrois, TC’s CEO.

The involvement of TC, the pic production division of broadcast network Telecinco, is crucial for these projects to get made.

Telecinco is required by government regulations to invest 5% of its annual revenue in Spanish and European fiction. Its minimum commitment for 2008, which it fulfilled, was e53.9 million ($68.7 million).

TC is one of the only production houses in Europe with the muscle to bankroll every year a clutch of mid- to low-budgeted English-language movies, a budget-range some U.S. studios have been abandoning.

TC put up 88% of financing for Alejandro Amenabar’s Rachel Weisz starrer “Agora,” said Telecinco CEO Paolo Vasile Tuesday at a presentation of Telecinco Cinema’s 2008-09 slate.

Sold internationally by Focus Features, “Agora” has been presented for consideration by the Cannes and Venice film festivals, Vasile added.

“Agora” is co-produced by Fernando Bovaira Mod Prods. and Amenabar’s Himenoptero. TC has also teamed with both shingles to produce Oskar Santos’ hospital thriller “El Mal ajeno.”

Starring Eduardo Noriega (“Vantage Point”) and Belen Rueda (“Orphanage”), the hospital-set thriller is written by Daniel Sanchez Arevalo, the director-writer of 2006’s seminal debut “DarkBlueAlmostBlack,” which heralded a new generation of Spanish filmmakers.

TC does not have an output deal with either Apaches or Mod, said Barrois.

“We have project-by-project deals with these producers. But they have privileged relationships with talent,” he added.

Bayona has “Hater” set up at Universal, produced by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Johnson; United Artists has acquired remake rights to Vigalondo’s “Timecrimes.”

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