Sony Pictures Entertainment has suspended pic production at Columbia Films Producciones Espanolas, its Madrid-based local production HQ for Europe, triggering the departure of longtime Sony exec Iona de Macedo.
As senior veep European production, de Macedo oversaw Sony’s European pic production efforts, working out of the Madrid office.
The pull back from Spain reflects Sony’s new production priorities for Europe.
Following the appointment this April of Deborah Schindler as prexy of Sony’s newly branded Intl. Motion Picture Production Group, SPE is targeting emerging markets in Europe, such as Russia.
“As part of the development and growth of our international motion picture production business worldwide, we have decided to move our headquarters for European local language production from Madrid to Berlin,” Jim Kennedy, SPE senior veep, corporate communications, told Daily Variety.
CFPE was launched in 2004. Under Macedo, Sony focused its continental Europe local production efforts on France, Italy and especially Spain.
Sony has hardly been encouraged to stay in Spain by its rampant online piracy in theatrical and DVD. Nor has filmmaking in the Spanish-language proved a panacea for unlocking Latino markets in the U.S. and Latin America.
In contrast, German filmmaking is now on the rebound. And Russia has seen large breakout hits, such as Timur Bekmambetov’s “Day Watch,” which has grossed $35 million worldwide.
CFPE produced two Spanish films, kicking off with Juan Calvo’s “Di que si,” a screwball romancer starring Paz Vega. Bowing in 2004, it was quite successful at hometurf wickets, grossing Euros 2.9 million ($4.2 million).
Released Sept. 22 on a substantial 320 print run, “Pitando” has notched up an OK but not standout first 24-day $1.9 million, a sign of imploding returns for all but blockbuster or breakout hits in Spain.
Sony’s relocation to Berlin kicked in before “Pitando’s” release, however.
De Macedo also took a producer credit on Italo-Spanish co-production “Melissa P,” based on the purportedly true sex diaries of an Italian teen. Released by Columbia TriStar Films Italia, it was a hit in Italy, but bombed in Spain.
Jordi Gasull, Sony veep creative affairs, Europe, has also ankled, to pursue a career in indie production.
While CFPE production has been put on ice, the company hasn’t been shuttered, and could reactivate. Based out of Berlin, Sony’s access to top Spanish projects is logically likely to diminish.