Lejarza moves over from TV businss with the intention of investing in more commercially minded European films.

Mikel Lejarza, the former director general of major Spanish broadcaster Antena 3, has taken over as president of the company’s cinema wing Antena 3 Films with the intention of investing in more commercially minded European projects.

Antena 3 Films has recently been actively investing in both local Spanish projects, especially comedies, such as box office hits Brian Drain and Pagafantas, and major US films, including Paul Greengrass’ Green Zone and Woody Allen’s You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger.

Lejarza told ScreenDaily that the company will continue this approach but “we will also produce and invest in more European projects with commercial potential that at the end of the day can work in prime time on our channels.

“I want the films to have a strong local context, with French/Spanish/English actors, director or producers and local stories, but they must be able to travel. I have in mind projects like the early Working Title films.”

This decision follows the Spanish government’s recent approval of a new film law that has lowered the required level of private broadcasters’ investment in film from 5% of their annual revenue to 3%, with the caveat that they spread the money across more European projects, instead of just investing in one or two major films a year.

Furthermore, Antena 3 Films will also invest in more projects from first-time film-makers going forward, says Lejarza, who will work alongside Mercedes Gamero, director general of Antena 3 Films to instill these changes.

Antena 3 as a group has strategically decided to branch out into more multimedia platforms and film will play an important part of that in terms of providing content.

On a personal level, Lejarza has made the move to Antena 3 Films in an effort to wind down his work load at the broadcaster and focus more on his previous experience as a university professor. Before Antena 3, Lejarza also worked as director general of rival broadcasters Telecinco.

Javier Bardaji, former director general of the multimedia division at Antena 3, will replace Lejarza as director general of television.