Filmax launches online megastore

Portal to feature TV, music and film

SAN SEBASTIAN — Spanish mini-major Filmax Ent. is to launch an online megastore to sell films and music worldwide.

Company expects the site to be up and running by spring 2008.

The as-yet-untitled portal will host titles from Filmax’s 4,000 film catalog, as well as third-party movies.

It also will offer nearly two million songs to download, after reaching deals with most international studios and indie companies.

Filmax will use the portal to webcast two online TV channels, one of them specializing in horror pics, a specialty of the company.

“We will connect all the fantasy genre fans around the world,” Filmax chairman Julio Fernandez told Daily Variety at the San Sebastian Film Festival on Friday.

The Internet move plays off Filmax’s newly deepened pocket.

On Wednesday, Filmax announced it had put through a Euros 20 million ($27 million) capital increase, underwritten by Filmax’s shareholders.

The increase forms part of a strategic plan over the next three years, which sees the company raising north of $135 million in new investment.

“This macro portal is a consequence of this growth plan,” Fernandez declared.

It’s also one answer to slumping film sales in piracy whammied Spain. The country saw theatrical admissions drop 5% last year and DVD sales tumble 6%. Some of the country’s main free-to-air TV operators are pulling back on film acquisitions.

“In the last two to three years we’ve reduced drastically our acquisitions budget. We used to invest $40 million a year in film acquisitions. These days, we prefer to invest that in production,” said Fernandez.

Now, Filmax aims to produce or co-produce both big and low-budget pics, which recoup from an international market. It is post-producing Brad Anderson’s “Transsiberian,” starring Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer and Ben Kingsley. This fall it will release Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza’s $2 million thriller “REC” in Spain. Screen Gems has acquired English-language remake rights to “REC.”

Filmax has also diversified into stronger yield sectors, launching Filmax Mobile and a vidgame creation line, exploiting Filmax’s own films.

Also, after producing legit musical “Grease,” its live entertainment brand Filmax Events is prepping a new musical project inspired by the story of Barcelona soccer club.

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