Focus takes ‘Juan of the Dead’

Cuba-set zomcom shambles into North America

MADRID — Focus Features’ digital distribution initiative, Focus World, has added Cuban zombie comedy “Juan of the Dead” to its U.S. release slate.

A festival favorite that world premiered in September at Toronto, “Juan” turns on a 40-year-old slacker who, when a zombie outbreak hits Cuba, turns a quick buck slaying families’ shambling undead.

Critics have been quick to see “Juan” as political allegory. If it really says anything about Cuba, it is its inhabitants’ knack of making ends meet, according to director Alejandro Brugues.

Focus World, which launches February with Russian fantasy thriller “Black Lightning,” premieres titles across video-on-demand and electronic sell-thru platforms, including cable/satellite providers, iTunes, Xbox 360, Playstation and YouTube.

John Sloss and Bart Walker’s Cinetic Media, which boarded “Juan” at Toronto to rep a U.S. sale, and pic’s international sales agent, Mexico’s Latinofusion, negotiated the U.S. deal.

The Focus World pact allows for “Juan” to premiere at U.S. festivals and then from April enjoy a theatrical run from a separate distributor, Latinofusion CEO Alfredo Calvino told Variety.

“Juan” struck major territory sales deals with Germany (Panda Storm) and Russia (Cinema Prestige) at Toronto, and with the U.K. (Metrodome) and Japan (Fine Films) in its aftermath.

Latinofusion is in advanced talks to close top territories in Latin America shortly, Calvino added.

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