Spanish distributor-producer Aurum Producciones is developing its first English-language feature film, an untitled thriller from The Man With Rain In His Shoes director Maria Ripoll.

According to Aurum head Francisco Ramos the company is close to securing US and European co-producers on the project. The script came from a "US studio," Ramos said, and is planned for an early 2001 shoot in North America with a mixed Spanish-American cast.

Ramos, the producer behind this winter's Spanish box office sensation The Art Of Dying (El Arte De Morir), is cutting back to about five feature films per year after topping off at eight in 1998. Ramos is one of the few producers in Spain who develops projects in-house and then commissions directors. "We function like a mini-studio," he says. Aurum is the Spanish distributor for New Line.

Also newly in development at Aurum are: thriller Incautos from Miguel Bardem (The Ugliest Woman In The World); an untitled "dramedy" from Art Of Dying director Alvaro Fernandez Almero; horror film Utopia in early script stages from Dying writers Curro Royo and Vicente Pozuelo; Manuel Toledano's follow-up to Shampoo Horns; and psychological drama Lola from Albacete & Menkes.