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Telemundo picks up 26 Cantinflas pix

Fourth of July Cantinflas Movie fest begins with 'Fotografo'

MIAMI — Telemundo, the U.S.’ No. 2 Spanish-language net, has acquired exclusive broadcast rights to 26 pics starring the legendary Mexican comedian Mario Moreno Reyes, better known as Cantinflas.

The deal — covering five years — fits squarely with Telemundo’s strategy to more actively woo the Mexican and Mexican-American viewers who comprise the vast majority of the U.S. Spanish-speaking population.

Cantinflas is a beloved figure whose career spanned the 1940s to the early ’80s. He died in 1993.

Telemundo will air the pics during special festivals and movie marathons on a monthly basis. It will start with a Fourth of July Cantinflas Movie Festival, which kicks off at 8 a.m. with “El Senor fotografo.” That day, it also will air “Abajo el telon,” “El Analfabeto,” “El Padrecito” and “El Senor doctor.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed — indeed, Telemundo did not specify from whom it had acquired the rights.

Rights to many Cantinflas films were embroiled in a legal dispute between Columbia Pictures and the actor’s son, Mario Moreno Ivanova.

Last June, a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled that the studio owned the rights to 34 films, not his son. The dispute continues, however: Earlier this year, Moreno Ivanova sued Columbia, charging the studio has undercut his rights to market his father’s movies in Mexico.

The son had been involved in separate legal action in Mexico with his cousin in a dispute over the inheritance of royalty rights.