Blanco sets up A Contracorriente Films

Spanish art house production, distribution outfit

MADRID -- One of Spain's most innovative film execs, Adolfo Blanco announced Tuesday the launch of Barcelona-based art house distribution and production house A Contracorriente Films.

With an initial investment of €1.2 million ($1.6 million) and a goal of some €6 million ($8.2 million) in sales in three years, A Contracorriente (literally "against the tide") pools together the founding partners of Blanco's previous successful venture, Notro, which was bought by content powerhouse Vertice 360. He left his position as head of film for Vertice in 2007.

"We're all shareholders, which is very important and changes the dynamics," Blanco said referring to the seven founders. "We're looking forward to recovering the original spirit of Notro."

CEO Blanco, who maintains his shareholder status in Vertice, brings to the table a wealth of experience that spans some of Spain's biggest companies, most successful theatrical releases and biggest international co-productions of the past decade.

A Contracorriente rests on the three pillars of distribution and rights management, production and international sales.

The company will distribute six-to-eight films a year, specializing in art house titles with broad commercial appeal and taking all rights in Spain with the goal of commercializing in all windows: DVD, VOD -- soon to enjoy broad penetration in Spain via terrestrial digital television -- theatrical release, TV and Internet.

The first slate includes Iceland's bid for the foreign-language Oscar this year, Oskar Jonasson's "Reykjavik-Rotterdam," set for release in Spain on April 30. Mark Walberg is set to star in Working Title's U.S. remake of the film.

Next up will be Denys Granier-Deferre's comedy "The Wedding Cake," festival favorite and Academy Award nominated documentary "The Cove," Claude Berri's "Tresor," with more than 1 million tickets sold in France and Pascal Chaumeil's romantic comedy "Heartbreak," starring Romain Duris and Vanessa Paradis.

Contracorriente will produce and co-produce features for cinema and TV, shying away from serials and focusing on mini-series and TV films.

Thirdly, the company will act as an international sales agent for its own productions, as well as third-party pick-ups. The sales strategy looks to create a brand of Catalan cinema -- films from Spain's northeastern, independently-minded region.

"The key to success is the integration of these activities because we don't consider production a business in and of itself," the founders said. "We will only commit to productions that we think will be commercially successful."