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UPI Spain Takes Alejandro Amenabar’s ‘Regression’

On the heels of ‘Spanish Affair,’ UPI bets on another potential blockbuster in Spain

MADRID — Having distributed “Spanish Affair,” the biggest Spanish hit of 2014 and indeed of all time with a €56.2 million ($67.4 million) box office gross, Universal Pictures International Spain is betting on potentially one of the biggest, if not the biggest, Spanish film of this year: Alejandro Amenabar’s “Regression.”

Starring Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson, “Regression” will bow in the U.S. by TWC-Dimension on Aug. 28 and will be released in Spain by UIP this fall. It is sold internationally by FilmNation Entertainment.

Also written by Amenabar, “Regression” marks his return to the mystery-suspense genre: Set in Minnesota in 1990, the film stars Hawke as detective Bruce Kenner, investigating the case of young Angela (Watson), who accuses her father, John Gray (David Dencik), of an unspeakable crime.

But when Gray admits his guilt, without recollection, a renowned psychologist (David Thewlis) brought into the case discovers a horrifying mystery – and “Regression” looks set to pack a crucial twist which takes it to a whole new level, an effect which Amenabar has already pulled off with remarkable success in two of his greatest hits: international breakthrough “Open Your Eyes,” which sparked a U.S. remake, “Vanilla Sky,” and Nicole Kidman starrer “The Others,” exec produced by Amenabar devotee Tom Cruise, which grossed more than $200 million worldwide.

UIP Spain will no doubt have paid top dollar for “Regression” in Spain. It has every good reason, however, to expect a handsome payoff. Produced by Fernando Bovaira, Amenabar’s longtime producer, for MOD Entertainment, MOD Producciones and Amenabar’s own label Himenoptero, First Generation Films in Canada and Telefonica Studios, “Regression” is also backed by Mediaset España, Spain’s biggest broadcast TV network, which will bring every means at its disposal to convert “Regression” into one of the biggest movie events of the year in Spain.

Rolling off its marketing power, more than a studio can be expected to muscle, Mediaset España’s film production arm Telecinco Cinema co-produced Spanish movies that accounted for 60% of Spain’s national cinema box office in 2014.

“Regression’s” creative team includes production designer Carol Spier (“Pacific Rim,” “Eastern Promises”), director of photography Daniel Aranyo (“The Last Days”), costume designer Sonia Grande (“The Others,” “Magic in the Moonlight”) and composer Roque Baños (“In the Heart of the Sea”).

UPI Spain’s “Regression” buy announcement comes as Spanish audiences, notably skewing older than in the U.S., appear to be tiring of Hollywood hero-driven fare. Though “Regression” can in no way be called a “local” movie and is naturally shot in English, UPI is also proving adept at spotting international market opportunities. It announced earlier this week that local-language films released by UPI drew $246.6 million in the last calendar year out of total theatrical grosses of $1.43 billion.

Apart from “Spanish Affair,” UPI co-produced “Babysitting” in France, a big breakout ($20.6 million); as for Germany, it distributed “Der Medicus” ($34.5 million), one of the top five German movies ever; and in Russia, it distributed “Viy 3D” ($34.3 million), Universal’s biggest ever release in the territory. From Ireland, comedy “Mrs Brown Boys” took $31.3 million; Italian comedy “Sotto Una Buona Stella notched up $14.8 million; and the Stephen Daldry-directed, Portuguese-language, Rio kids’ adventure movie “Trash” grossed $6.6 million in Brazil.

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