Lauren is back from the brink

Barcelona court lifts distrib's suspension of payments

SITGES — Lauren Films, Spain’s top indie distribber in the ’90s, returned to normal business Oct. 2 when a Barcelona court lifted its suspension of payments.

Payments suspension is a looser version of Chapter 11 in the U.S. Lauren filed for suspension of payments in June 2004.

It might be back to normal business, but it won’t be business as usual.

Lauren got whammed by the collapse of the pay TV market in 2002, plus some cinemas underperforming.

It has now crawled back from the brink. But the new-look Lauren will be leaner and lighter, Llorens avers.

“I’ve scythed overheads,” said Llorens, who cut a deal in January for Filmax to handle Lauren pics’ DVD distribution.

“I aim to buy no more than seven to eight films a year. I’ll be highly selective and normally won’t pre-buy,” he added. From 1996 to 2003, exhibitor-distributor Lauren was Miramax’s preferential distributor in Spain. Miramax filed an injunction against Lauren claiming moneys owed. Llorens has put that sum at $6 million.

The litigation is still dragging on, Llorens told Daily Variety Thursday.

“It could take years to be sorted out,” he said.

What remains is the familiar fighting talk from the 20-to-a-dozen talker.

Lauren continued to buy during suspension of payments. Pickups included “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “The Wayward Cloud.”

One of seven new pickups is San Sebastian competish player “Sleeping Dogs Lie,” which played well at the Basque fest.

“It’s the most commercial film in competition. And I’ve got it,” Llorens gloated.

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