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Karma expands into France

Distrib to release up to four pics a year

MADRID — Spanish niche distributor Karma Films has crossed the Pyrenees to compete in France’s film market with its new Paris-based boutique Medula Films.

Medula debuted Nov. 7 in French theaters with a limited release of mystic documentary “What the Bleep Do We Know?,” bought from Richard Guardian’s Lightning Ent.

Headed by Karma general manager Miguel Angel Perez and Spanish distribution exec Idoia Serrano, Medula aims to bow three to four pics theatrically next year and near a half-dozen titles via its in-house DVD operation.

Medula will introduce into France the same business model developed by Karma in Spain.

Created by Perez in 2003, Madrid-based Karma distributes left-of-field or out-there pics and social or spiritual documentaries such as Philip Gronning’s “Into Great Silence,” which grossed a healthy Euro684,700 ($1 million) in Spanish theaters.

Company is also bulwarked by new DVD distribution methods — such as lifestyle homevid offerings — as well as institutional aid from, for example, the E.U.’s Media Program.

Medula and Karma will exploit synergies to negotiate better contract conditions with international sellers, often chasing joint pics rights for France and Spain. New entente will be presented at February’s Berlin Film Market.

For Europe’s specialized distribution market, bigger titles don’t mean better margins, Karma insists.

“Distribution is changing in Europe with the entry of small distributors exploiting new opportunities with niche product. Spain has few distributors of this type; in France, there’s an abundance of boutique distribution houses that work very well releasing three to four titles a year,” Perez argued.

Lower marketing costs policy is another explanation for Medula’s creation.

“Unlike Spain, the success of a small film in France depends more on indirect publicity — reviews or reports — more than conventional publicity,” Serrano added.

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