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Spanish buy for U

Major outpost pumps coin into 8 local pix

MADRID — Universal Pictures Spain will invest $12 million over the next three years in a slate of eight Spanish pics.

Two domestic co-productions kick off UPS’ slate: a comedy of chance encounters, “Kilometer Zero,” and a bittersweet tale of students falling for showgirls in ’60s Spain, “Kisses for Everyone.”

Production will be overseen by UPS managing director Rafael Alvero, who heads theatrical and TV, with indie producer Stefan Nicoll inked as head of acquisitions.

Shooting in October, “Kilometer Zero” is co-produced by local production house Cuarteto and directed by comedy screenwriter-helmers Juan Luis Iborra and Yolanda Garcia Serrano, co-scribes of Manuel Gomez Pereira’s hits “Mouth to Mouth” and “Between the Legs.”

“Kilometer” is toplined by Spanish comedienne Concha Velasco and George Corraface.

‘Kisses’ on schedule

Skedded to roll in February 2000, “Kisses” is the pilot project of production shingle La Fiesta, headed by Ana Amigo, former director of international co-productions at Sogetel.

Written by Carlos Lopez and Jose Angel Esteban, who originated the storyline for Fernando Trueba’s hit “The Girl of Your Dreams,” “Kisses” will be directed by Jaime Chavarri (“Bicycles Are for Summer”).

UPS is also negotiating a first-look deal with Jose Antonio Felez’s Tesela production outfit, which is advancing a slate of international co-productions. “These are mainstream projects by recognized prestige directors on the cutting edge of contempo comedies now coming out of Spain,” Alvero told Daily Variety.

“We can bring distribution know-how to production and be in on projects from their inception,” he added.

Launched July 1 as a distributor, UPS will handle independent pickups and pics in Spain from former Polygram outfits such as Working Title. UPS will release the pics, at least until the end of next year, through a co-distribution deal with Warner Sogefilms, a 50/50 joint venture of Warner Bros. and Spanish conglom Sogecable.

Alvero reports directly to Stewart Till, prexy of Universal Pictures Intl. The definitive structure of U’s distribution network in Spain, including its partnership in UIP, will be determined by October 2000.

(John Hopewell in Madrid contributed to this report.)