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Tri high on prod’n

Spanish distrib sets subsid to make pix, series

MADRID — Top Spanish distributor TriPictures looks set to plow into international movie production.

Prexy Felipe Ortiz said TriPictures is prepping a subsidiary production division, with the probable name TriPictures Producciones, which in its first year will earmark Pta1 billion ($5.6 million) to co-finance two co-productions originated by TriPictures and earmark funds for two local features.

TriPictures is also eyeing TV series production, tapping a separate budget. TriPictures is currently headhunting for production execs.

For 15 years, TriPictures’ core business has been pic distribution in Spain, where it releases some 18 movies a year, about four of them derived from a 1995 output deal with Mandalay Pictures.

Pipelines in place

Other frequent product suppliers include Mutual Film Intl. and Behaviour Worldwide. TriPictures also forms part of the Helkon Intl. Pictures European acquisition consortium announced at this year’s Cannes festival.

TriPictures aims to play off synergies with key product suppliers to enter into reciprocal product deals.

TriPictures and Spanish producer Cesar Benitez broke off a short-lived production pact earlier this year. “We’ve changed our goal. Our potential for international co-production is enormous,” Ortiz told Daily Variety.

Following the withdrawal of French exhib company the Edeline Group, TriPictures holds 50% in Premier Megaplex, a joint exhib alliance with broadcaster Tele 5. Premier’s first sites — a nine-plex in Salamanca and a 12-plex in Vigo — set to open at the end of this year and in 2002, respectively.