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In what would appear a reversal of fortune for both Hollywood studios and local feature films, Spanish broadcasters are cutting spending on foreign film acquisitions in favour of more local product. The projects they are backing represent some of the most anticipated and ambitious films in development and production in Spain for the year ahead.
Telecinco unveiled a restructured film buying policy, opting for cost-cutting multi-title package deals with Hollywood independents over long-term output agreements with the majors. It also said it would up its spending on Spanish films, and announced deals with four local distributors.
Shortly after, public broadcaster RTVE announced its own new policy shift towards acquiring more local and fewer Hollywood films. The network said it had acquired the rights to or would co-produce 49 films this year, only slightly less than last year's 55, for a total anticipated spend in 2003 of Euros 36m. In turn, its budget for US films dropped from Euros 86m to Euros 41m this year.
The parallel announcements come after months of independent Spanish producers and distributors decrying the lack of film acquisitions at broadcasters. While nobody is sounding the horns of victory, there is a sense of optimism from these announcements.
"We see this as good news and an opportunity as it will favour the local industry and offer spaces for local product," said Waheb Lekhal, the newly appointed general manager of production company BocaBoca.
On RTVE's roster is Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education (La Mala Educacion), now in post-production and scheduled for a spring 2004 theatrical release. It also took free-to-air rights on Alejandro Amenabar's Out To Sea (Mar Al Dentro) starring Javier Bardem. The estimated Euros 10m film is now shooting.
Other pick-ups for RTVE include: Alex de la Iglesia's new comedy, Ferpect Crime (Crimen Ferpecto); Carlos Saura's much-anticipated The Seventh Day (El Septimo Dia); Argentinean actor Federico Luppi's directorial debut Pasos; and multiple Oscar nominee Jose Luis Garci's in-development Tiovivo De Madrid C. 1950.
Among the new projects on Telecinco's slate are the mega-budgeted Alatriste; sequels to last year's top local box office hits The Other Side Of The Bed (El Otro Lado De La Cama) and Moscow Gold (El Oro De Moscu); Eduardo Noriega-starrer Lobo, now shooting; Italian-Spanish co-production Don't Move (Non Ti Muovere), now in post-production; and new comedy XXL in production at Sogecine and TriPictures with up-and-coming star Oscar Jaenada.