You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Spain Reaches Out for Amigos to Partner in Film Production

Movie companies look for helping hand overseas

The Spaniards are coming.

They have little choice. The number of big pics going into production is plunging, so top Spanish movie companies are reaching out abroad for sizable, sell-able movies to co-produce and sell.

For foreign companies, the trend opens up a slew of possibilities, such as Spanish production co-finance and sales agents’ minimum guarantees.

The  outreach will allow more foreign companies to tap into a major lure:  Selling to one of the world’s fastest-growing big movie markets, Latin America.

“Ten years ago, Latin America was dead and Western Europe very strong. Now it’s pretty well the other way round,” said Geraldine Gonard, at Imagina Intl. Sales.

There have been a flurry of recent Spanish outreach deals. On Friday, Barcelona-based Film Factory announced it had taken international rights to “Relatos salvajes,” a six-part omnibus helmed by one of Argentina’s most talked-about crossover talents, Daniel Szifron (“The Pretender,” “On Probation”), about people driven to flashpoint by their own ambition or the world’s inequalities. The helmer said the movie taps into his passion for the 1989 pic “New York Stories” and Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories.”

In further Friday announcements, Latido unveiled a Cannes slate that includes “Black Diamonds,” Spaniard Miguel Alcantud’s tale of an African soccer star wannabe; “Thesis From a Homicide,” from Argentina’s Hernan Goldfrid; “Puppy Love,” Belgian Delphine Lehericey’s coming-of-age tale; and  “Jungle,” a tale of a bickering couple on a cannibal island that grossed a smash $16.0 million in Russia since its Jan. 17 bow.

Meanwhile, Imagina will rep U.K. production “The Day of the Flowers,” from John Roberts, about two Scottish sisters’ reconciliation.

Capitalized and cosmopolitan, French companies have sold films from around the world for more than a decade. At next month’s Cannes, Studiocanal reps Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Inside Llewyn Davis,” while Wild Bunch has James Gray’s “The Immigrant” (formerly titled “Lowlife”).

But Spain?

Spain’s TV ad market shrank a huge 19% to 1.8 billion euros ($2.35 billion) in 2012, per Infoadex.

“Spanish broadcasters’ money is driving the industry. But networks are thinking twice before green-lighting new projects, while sales agents need a full slate for Cannes. Argentina produces 140 films a year,” said Film Factory’s Vicente Canales.

The number of really sellable indie movies is declining. “A film either sells well or almost not at all. There’s no midway point,” Canales added.

“Spain’s film industry is producing fewer films, many aren’t that big. Having bridged to Latin America, we want to extend that bridge to Europe,” said Latido’s Silvia Iturbe.

So do many Spanish producers. And Spanish audience tastes are evolving.

“Relatos salvajes” is co-produced by Pedro and Agustin Almodovar’s El Deseo; they wanted to work with Szifron, “a satirical genius,” in Agustin Almodovar’s words.

But the cast, which includes Ricardo Darin, Dario Grandinetti, Leonardo Sbaraglia and Diego Peretti, all name actors in Spain, is “perfect for both sides of the Atlantic,” said producer Esther Garcia, at El Deseo.

Tying down foreign productions, Spanish companies are also working a two-way street. On “Relatos,” Warner Bros. has bought rights to Latin America. On many films, they remain free.

Set in Cuba, “Day of the Flowers” is not so far from the Spanish films that are usually handled by Imagina Intl. Sales, having a Latino touch.

“We want to take on foreign movies, especially ones that will appeal to our portfolio of clients in Latin America,” said Geraldine Gonard, at Imagina. “We are very well established in terms of Latin America and Latino markets. That’s why production companies are coming to us.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

  • 45 Seconds of Laughter

    Film Review: '45 Seconds of Laughter'

    “Everyone is worth more than their worst act,” said Roman Catholic sister and anti-death penalty advocate Helen Prejean, and it’s with these words that “45 Seconds of Laughter” closes. It’s an apt sentiment on which to leave Tim Robbins’ sincerely felt documentary study of the therapeutic acting workshops run by his own theater company in [...]

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Selected for AFI's Life Achievement Award

    The American Film Institute Board of Trustees has selected Julie Andrews as the recipient of the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award. The award will be presented to Andrews on April 25 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will be telecast on TNT. “Julie Andrews is practically perfect in every way,” said Kathleen Kennedy, chair of the [...]

  • 4127_D001_00007_RC Phyllis Logan stars as Mrs.

    'Downton Abbey' to Dominate Box Office Weekend With $30 Million

    The feature film version of “Downton Abbey” is heading for an impressive $30 million opening weekend at 3,079 sites for an easy victory at the North American box office, early estimates showed Friday. The launch of Brad Pitt’s space drama “Ad Astra” will land in second with about $20 million, while Sylvester Stallone’s action-thriller “Rambo: [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content