Spain's Telecinco has designs on film unit

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MADRID -- Spanish commercial broadcaster Telecinco said Wednesday that it will spin off its film department from the production of television fiction series, calling the new entity Telecinco Cinema.

Previously, all production activity was grouped under the broadcaster's Estudios Picasso.

"We've decided to do it because Estudios Picasso encompasses the production of series and films, and we wanted to separate ourselves a bit from the series and the Picasso that existed up to now," said Telecinco Cinema CEO Alvaro Augustin, who was general manager of Estudios Picasso.

Estudios Picasso will continue to function, focusing on series only and under the guidance of the director of fiction production, Pepa Sanchez-Biezna.

According to Augustin, the move demonstrates the broadcaster's increased investment and attention to film production. The broadcaster, in accordance with a government requirement to invest 5% of revenue in local production, poured about €35 million ($47 million) into film production in 2006.

Last year, Estudios Picasso produced Spain's highest-grossing film, the period piece "Alatriste," starring Viggo Mortensen, and co-produced Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth."

The company is co-producing the much-anticipated "The Orphanage," directed by newcomer Juan Antonio Bayona, with del Toro taking a creative production credit.
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