Spain's Tornasol inks multipicture pact

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MADRID -- Veteran Spanish production house Tornasol has signed a deal to shoot at least 16 feature films over the next four years at Alicante's Ciudad de la Luz studios, spending between 18 million euros and 30 million euros ($26.4 million-$43.9 million) each year, studio officials said Monday.

The move, which will see Tornasol set up a Valencia-based production label dubbed Castafiore to develop projects in the region, sets a new bar for the Spanish film sector.

"This is a first in Spain," studio commercial director Javier Orce said. "It is the first time a Spanish company has rented a soundstage for four years, allowing it to optimize costs and resources by contracting services for a year rather than by on a picture-by-picture basis."

According to Orce, Tornasol will use the same key crew members -- production design and artistic director -- on each of the 16 films. "This is an important step toward further professionalizing the industry," Orce said.

Tornasol was not immediately available Monday for comment.

The deal launches in the coming weeks with Daniela Fejerman's comedy "Siete Minutos."

Other titles scheduled for 2008 include Philippe Le Guay's "Muchachas," Salvador Garcia Ruiz's "Castillos de Carton" and Maria Ripoll's drama "Laura y Julo."

Ciudad de la Luz has attracted a growing number of big-budget films, including Donald Petrie's romantic comedy "My Life in Ruins," starring Nia Vardalos, thanks to the state-of-the-art facilities as well as the 12%-18% rebate regional authorities provide for locally spent production dollars.

Tornasol is one of Spain's most international players, regularly co-producing international features like Ken Loach's "The Wind That Shakes the Barley." The Madrid-based company is due to release Spanish cult favorite Alex de la Iglesia's $14 million English-language "Oxford Murders" in January, starring John Hurt, Elijah Wood and Leonor Watling.
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