×

Sogecine, Spain’s most successful pic producer over the last decade, has halted new film production.

Owned by Spanish TV giant Sogecable, Sogecine remains committed to two films: Jose Luis Cuerda’s “Los girasoles ciegos,” now shooting in Galicia, Northern Spain, and Mateo Gil’s “Pedro Paramo,” toplining Gael Garcia Bernal, now in pre-production.

Beyond that, for the moment at least, no new films are being put into production at Sogecine, a company whose productions include Alejandro Amenabar’s “The Others,” his Academy Award-winning “The Sea Inside,” all the films of arthouse auteur Julio Medem, and a string of prestige, and often highly popular, productions.

The production freeze has prompted the departure of highly-regarded longtime Sogecine producer Gustavo Ferrada. His credits for Sogecine include Gil’s debut “Nobody Knows Anybody,” Javier Fesser’s first pic, “El milagro de P. Tinto,” and Alex de la Iglesia’s “Ferpect Crime.”

Ferrada’s exit follows hard on the heels of that of Fernando Bovaira. Sogecine boss from 1996 and Sogecable director of contents, Bovaira ankled in early September to pursue a career as an independent producer. He will, however, exec produce “Girasoles” and “Pedro Paramo.”

Parent company Sogecable, Spain’s dominant pay TV player, launched new broadcaster Cuatro in November 2005. It is already turning an operating profit, and offers prospects for profit growth, which a film production company, however high-flying, simply cannot match.

Despite its startling successes — “The Others” grossed $98.6 million in the U.S. — Sogecine never appears to have been a major preoccupation at Sogecable.

It survived more on the talent and determination of its young management than as part of an overall strategic plan.

Spain’s establishment, left or right of center, has never really taken film seriously.

As Sogecable focuses on its core TV biz, Sogecine appears an early victim of corporate streamlining. As things now stand, Sogecable has bigger fish to fry.