Lola answers call

Spain's Telefonica ups stake in pic producer

MADRID — Telefonica Media, the giant film and TV subsid of telco Telefonica, has taken over Spain’s biggest pic producer Lolafilms, upping its stake from 33% to 70%.

Lolafilms CEO Andres Vicente Gomez will retain the remaining 30% in association with a group of minority shareholders.

Gomez told Daily Variety he has been given a five-year exclusive contract with Lolafilms.

The move by Telefonica coincides with dramatic expansion at the already large production-distribution house.

Five-year plan

Under a new five-year blueprint — the most ambitious ever by a Spanish pic producer — Lolafilms will produce 10-12 pics a year, including “five annual mainstream pics, shot in English and aimed at international auds,” Gomez said.

This game plan effectively doubles Lola’s recent production levels. Lola’s capital base will be raised to around Pta3 billion ($18.4 million), way above the norm for Spanish production companies.

Initial projects

First English-lingo titles to roll are pics by Susan Seidelman (“Gaudi Afternoon” with Judy Davis and Lili Taylor) and by John Malkovich (“The Dancer Upstairs” with Javier Bardem).

Pic budgets are $5 million to $10 million. Films currently in production, in Spanish or English, have a total budget value of $68 million.

Lola is also in talks with German producer-distributor Helkon Media for the two companies to swap 5% stakes in their companies, and for Helkon to have a first option to co-produce Lola pics.

The Helkon deal could lead to other similar arrangements, even a Euro pic alliance.

Per Gomez, Lolafilms will “sometimes co-produce with France, Germany and Italy, where I’m looking to strengthen relations with companies,” Gomez said.

(Liza Foreman in Berlin contributed to this report.)

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