Clara Lago, Maria Ripoll, Don't Blame
Photo: Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto/REX Shutterstock - Sony Pictures Spain

Move comes as comedies thrive in Europe, show export potential

MADRID –In a decisive play for a movie that is shaping up as one of Spain’s biggest B.O. bets of 2016, Sony Pictures Spain is teaming with Antonio Asensio’s Madrid-based Zeta Cinema to co-produce romcom “No culpes al karma de lo que te pasa por gilipollas (“Don’t Blame Karma for Being a Jerk”).

Sony Pictures has also acquired worldwide distribution rights. It plans a Nov. 11 Spanish theatrical release for “Karma” – prime box office dating for Spain.

Toplining Clara Lago, the star of B.O. juggernauts “Spanish Affair” and “Spanish Affair 2,” the highest-grossing movies in Spain in 2014 and 2015, “Karma” marks the big-screen makeover of the Planeta-published novel of the same title by Laura Norton, which sold 100,000 copies in Spain.

It also reteams Lago, director Maria Ripoll (“Tortilla Soup,” “Traces of Sandalwood”), Zeta Cinema and Sony Pictures Spain, all involved in romantic comedy “It’s Now or Never,” which punched €8.4 million ($9.1 million) to become the No. 5 biggest Spanish hit of 2015.

“No culpes al karma” – Norton’s novel at least – turns on a young woman struggling with the business she’s opened, her parents’ divorce, a boyfriend she hasn’t seen in a year, and her sister’s marriage to a guy she carried a candle for when they went to school together.

The film is localized, but not local, Zeta Cinema producer Francisco “Paco” Ramos argued: “’Karma’ is a romantic comedy about a girl who has to deal with falling in and out of love, relating to her family. ‘Karma’ could happen in Madrid, Barcelona, or France.”

“Don’t Blame Karma For Being a Jerk” is associate produced by Spanish pubcaster Televisión Española (TVE), its biggest pay TV operator, Movistar Plus, regional state TV Televisió de Catalunya and Sony channel AXN España, a full flush of TV players which underscores the title’s attractiveness. Spain’s ICAA Film and Audiovisual Arts Institute and the Catalan Institute of Cultural Enterprises (ICEC) put up co-funding.

“After our smashing success with Maria Ripoll, Clara Lago and Zeta Cinema’s last film, ‘It’s Now or Never,’ Sony Pictures is thrilled to re-team with Maria, Clara and Paco to bring ‘Don’t Blame Karma For Being a Jerk’ to audiences in Spain and around the world,” said Ivan Losada, general manager, Sony Pictures Spain.

“Laura’s novel has become one of the most successful Spanish books in recent years, with incredible film potential. Between the script, director and star, we have an extraordinary team lined-up to create a great romantic comedy, full of strength, tenderness, and heart,” Ramos added.

“Karma’s” Sony production-distribution announcement comes after a 2015 when three of the five highest grossing Spanish films in Spain were comedies. That trend is seen elsewhere in Europe. In France last year, 10 of the 15 Gallic movies that sold north of one million admissions – about $7 million in gross B.O. – were also laffers.

Of the top 100 European films in Europe over 2010-14, nearly half – 48 – were comedies, accounting for 43% of tix sales to European films, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory. Contrary to industry lore that comedies don’t travel, from 1995 to 2014, French comedies sold more cinema tickets outside France – 326 million – than any other French film type, a recent UniFrance study confirmed.

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