Spanish publishing giant Grupo Planeta and Italian partner De Agostini have finally unveiled full details of their joint multi-media venture, DeA Planeta, including the creation of a new production division to be headed by former Esicma chief Pau Calpe.

Calpe will oversee the as yet unnamed production division, which plans to co-produce miniseries and an annual 4-5 feature films, beginning with Esicma co-production Voices In The Night (Las Voces En La Noche) from Mensaka director Salvador Garcia Ruiz. Calpe says the unit will start slowly and "prudently, considering the difficult moment in the market."

DeA Planeta president Maurizio Carlotti also unveiled Prodigius, a new joint venture with Spanish media conglomerate MediaPro to produce TV movies, a sector Carlotti considers "unexploited in Spain."

In distribution, the company will beef up its acquisitions presence to about 25 films per year, and open several new lines of business, including more arthouse titles and an Asian label dubbed "Orient Express."

DeA Planeta head of distribution Adolfo Blanco says the company has signed a new accord with arthouse distributor-exhibitor Sherlock Films for original-language and arthouse fare. According to the terms of the deal, Sherlock will handle theatrical distribution of DeA Planeta acquistions, with DeA Planeta covering p&a costs and also home video and TV distribution. DeA Planeta already has a similar deal in place with UIP for its more commercial fare, such as forthcoming titles Swimfan, Rules Of Attraction and The Pianist.

DeA Planeta also plans to launch a groundbreaking new distribution strategy of releasing original-language titles in theatres simultaneously with the video release of the same titles' dubbed versions. The initiative aims to capitalise on the combined promotional effort and target a wider market for films, which Blanco says generally go out on less than five theatrical prints nationwide.

Originally launched in 1999 by Grupo Planeta to house its various media interests, the unit - then called Planeta 2010 - eventually sold a 50% share to De Agostini. The newly dubbed DeA Planeta, overseen by Carlotti and managing director Agusti Mezquida, has already forged a growing presence on the international market in acquisitions and sales.