MADRID — Diamond Films, part of Latin America’s Telefilms Group, its biggest independent movie distributor, has expanded to Europe, setting up Diamond Films España, a direct distribution operation in Spain headed by Spanish distrib vet Carles Montiel and Gonzalo Claiman-Versini.
Montiel has held executive positions at multiple Spanish independent distribution houses such as Lauren Films, Universal Pictures and Wide Pictures; Claiman-Versini is a former lawyer at the Buenos Aires and Paris bar.
Diamond Films España, which handles home entertainment and TV rights on movies it acquires, will release five titles in Spanish cinema theaters this year, beginning on July 29 with STX Ent.’s “Bad Moms.”
Directed by “The Hangover” writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, and starring Mila Kunis (“Black Swan”), Kristen Bell (“Veronica Mars”) and Kathryn Hahn (“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”), “Bad Moms” is the first of four titles accessed by Diamond Films España via an output deal for Spain with STX Ent.
Diamond Films España looks set to follow the same line of acquisitions as its counterparts in Latin America, releasing some of the most powerful upscale U.S. titles which are either offered to foreign distributors via output deals or sold on the open independent market.
Also in Diamond Films España’s distribution pipeline from STX are: Supernatural horror movie “The Bye Bye Man,” from Stacy Title (“Let the Devil Wear Black”); adventure love-story “The Space Between Us,” directed by Peter Chisholm (“Serendipity”) and starring Asa Butterfield (“The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”); and ‘Hardcore Henry,’ an adventure thriller shot from the first person and produced by Timur Bekmambetov (“Wanted”).
Diamond Films España has also acquired for Spain “The Founder,” with Michael Keaton (“Spotlight,” “Birdman”) as McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. The title was bought from Glen Basner’s FilmNation Ent.
Part of the Telefilms Group, Diamond Films has seven direct distribution operations in Latin America, set up in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Chile.
Acquired mainly from the Sun Distribution Group, past Diamond Films releases include many of the highest-grossing independent hits of recent years: Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby” and the “Hunger Games” film series.
In Latin America, Diamond Films distributes about 30 movies a year. In Spain, it will look to release about 12-15 titles in 2017, Claiman-Versini said.
Driven by multiplexing and its pay TV window, dynamized by Netflix’s entry into the region, Latin America, after China, proved to be one of the fastest-growing movie markets in the world in terms of the coin pan-regional distributors could bring to the table for big indie movies with U.S. distribution. Over the last 24 months, however, the value of the pay TV looks to have plateau-ed.
Diamond Films España launches in Spain, in contrast, as the territory shows signs of a box office renaissance. Gross box office in Spain rose 13% from a this-century low-point of €507.2 million ($563.5 million) in 2013 to €572.7 million ($636.0 million) last year, according to Spain’s Icaa film institute.
“Our expansion into Spain is logical, almost obvious because of cultural, historical and language [links],” Claiman-Versini said.
He added: “Also, Spain was a very strong market until 2005 or 2006, then plunged a lot. We believe in Spain’s recuperation.”
Scale also matters. Owned by Tomas Darcyl, Ricardo Costianovsky and Diego Halabi, the Telefilms Group launches in Spain via Diamond Films España as foreign distributors the world over face competition from both new Over-The-Top players that acquire global or multi-territory rights and Hollywood studios which frequently buy big titles in global or regional deals or for a slew of territories.
“Film distribution is increasingly global. You have to open up to new territories,” Claiman-Versini told Variety.
European film-TV group Studiocanal already operates direct distribution operations in U.K., France, Germany, Australia/New Zealand, Canada’s Entertainment One in Canada, U.K. Spain. Benelux and Australia/New Zealand.
When competing for top titles which can face off at the box-office with studio and local blockbusters at the Latin American box office, Diamond Films can now bring another major movie market to the table. strengthening its negotiating muscle.
Beyond theatrical distribution, Diamond Films Mexico and Telefilms have also entered local movie production, backing in Mexico “Que culpa tiene el niño,” which is coproduced with Monica Lozano’s Alebrije Films, producer of “Instructions Not Included.” Grossing a first 10-day $8 million in Mexico, it currently ranks as the biggest Mexican movie release of 2016. Claiman-Versini said Diamond Films España does not discount the idea of distributing or even co-producing Spanish cinema, without necessarily taking rights for Latin America.