Barcelona-based mini-studio, The Filmax Group, is finalising plans for its "most ambitious" project this year: a feature film and spin-off multimedia ventures based on popular Spanish cartoon character Capitan Trueno (Captain Thunder).

Director Juanma Bajo Ulloa - whose last feature film, 1997's Airbag, became the highest grossing Spanish film ever in its day - is attached to direct.

With a budget "above PTS1,000m" ($6.5m), far exceeding the Spanish average, producer Julio Fernandez says he will launch a video game, an animated cartoon and a CD-Rom soundtrack to accompany the film and capitalise on the merchandising potential of the popular cartoon character, a medieval knight. An interactive web page is already up and running (

Thunder will involve Filmax's start-up animation producer Bren Entertainment, post-production laboratory Filmtel and a Galician capital risk fund.

The script for Thunder is currently in the final stages and casting is set to begin this spring. Shooting on the film should start before the end of the year in preparation for a 2001 release. Backed by Spanish digital satellite platform Via Digital, Fernandez says the project has already elicited international interest.