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On Pictures enters film production

Distributor picks 'Mortadelo' as first project

MADRID — On Pictures, a Spanish distrib owned by powerful publishing conglom the Zeta Group, has entered into film production.

And it aims to do so, in domestic terms at least, with a bang. Its first announced project is a live-action adaptation of Spanish “Mortadelo and Filemon” comicbooks, which turn on two secret spies.

Directed by Javier Fesser, Oscar-nommed for short “Binta and the Great Idea,” the 2003 bigscreen transfer of the comic “Mortadelo and Filemon’s Big Adventure” proved the second highest grossing Spanish film ever on home turf with 22.8 million euros ($29.9 million).

Miguel Bardem will helm the new adaptation.

Screenplay is by Bardem, Carlos Martin and Juan Vicente Pozuelo. Rolling in April, pic will be ready for delivery in 2008.

Cast and budget have yet to announced. The latter likely will not be cheap for Spain as the cost of the first “Mortadelo” pushed $10 million.

It was always Zeta’s intention to enter pic production; veepee Antonio Asensio Mosbah is a film buff.

A “Mortadelo” pic offers obvious synergies with Zeta’s large stable of magazines and newspapers.

But the Zeta diversification is also a sign of the times. Other Spanish distributors — led by Filmax — have plunged ever more heavily into production, spurred by the sorry state of Spain’s distribution market, where, barring surprises, only select blockbusters or new films by cult auteurs perform strongly.

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