GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Top Mexican film producer Marco Antonio Salgado and partners Samantha C. Guillen, Adrian Bazan and Francisco Villareal are fast forging the first film slate at Cinema 226, a new concept production coalition in Mexico designed to take advantage of burgeoning production-distribution opportunities offered by a digital age.
Launched last September, Cinema 226 is led by El Chilito Enmascarado Films, headed by Guillen, Bazan and Villareal, BDC Producciones, a production house run by Salgado, Angel Pulido and director Gustavo Moheno, and Argos Cine, the film production arm of Epigmenio Ibarra’s Argos Comunicación, producer of Telemundo’s game-changing smash hit “The Lord of the Skies” and the upcoming Netflix original “Ingobernable,” with Kate del Castillo.
Since late last year, more Mexican production houses – Alpha Centauri, Sobrevivientes and Frame by Frame – have joined the alliance. Cinema 226 also counts on the collaboration of Mexico’s CTT, a rentals company, image post-production house Cinema Maquina and sound post -pro specialist Encoresound in a country where service companies often part-exchange services for equity in a production.
Currently, on its first 2017-18 slate, Cinema 226 has three movies in post, two in production, three international co-productions in development and four TV series in various stages of development or production. Some highlights:
*Comedy ”Malacopa,” from Armando Casas and Villareal,to be distributed in Mexico and Latin America by Corazon Films, with world sales handled by Media Luna;
*”Traicion,” directed by Ignacio Ortiz Cruz, a longtime associate of Salgado’s, and a betrayal-laced father-daughter love story come road movie.
*Also in post, and billed as a “tropical geriatric comedy,” Costa Rican Ivan Porras’ last-chance drama “The Ballroom,” about a 72-year-old ex soccer-player, who never won anything, attempting to win a tropical dance contest.
*”Influencia,” from Pablo Aura, a romantic drama-thriller about a girl with the power to kill a person by drawing them.
*In its first international co-production, Cinema 226 will co-produce “The Year of the Plague,” a “Stranger Things”-type fantasy produced out of Spain by David Matamoros’ Zentropa Spain and Antonia Nava’s Neo Art Producciones.
*Cinema 226 is also linking to Nicole Maynard’s Cine Feral for Andres E. Kaiser’s “Feral,” a thriller-horror mockumentary turning on a priest’s attempt in the wilds of Oaxaca to reinsert a group of feral children whom villagers thought to be possessed.
*”Narcoamérica,” a TV series from Danny Gavidia and Alejandro Gerber, in co-production with Spain’s Neo Art, which has just won Imcine Mexican Film Institute backing for the production of a teaser.
The philosophy of Cinema 226 is that its whole is much stronger than its parts. Said Salgado: “Uniting its individual strengths, it creates a label with ample experience to locate film and TV projects with large artistic and commercial profit potential.”
On such projects, it can “guarantee optimal development, financing, production, distribution and international sales, thanks to its broad base of commercial alliances with numerous companies in related sectors.”
Cinema 226 will produce both arthouse and mainstream titles, Salgado said. It will look to finance movies out of Mexico by recourse to Eficine tax financing and Imcine Mexican Film Institute Foprocine and Fidecine investment lines.
But, with Mexico producing 162 movies in 2016, competition for funding is now fierce. If funding fails, Cinema 226 will be able to come to the table with its own financing, said Guillen.
The company is also a product of the digital age. Stressing development in order to give films a better chance of tapping finance, Cinema 226 has negotiated first-look distribution deals with some of Mexico’s main distribution companies, Salgado said. Thanks to this, it can access minimum guarantees which may include contributions from the most popular SVOD platforms, he added.
Salgado’s recent credits include Carlos Carrera’s “On Childhood,” Lucia Carreras’ “The Greatest House in the World” and “Tamara and the Ladybug,” and “The 4th Company,” by Amir Galvan Cervera and Mitzi V. Arreola. An ex-Estudios Churrubusco executive, Guillen has worked since 2007 as a broker structuring Eficine tax break investment on 18 film projects. Coming from the financial world, Bazan specializes in capital risk management and private-sector find investment in the entertainment business. Fernando Villarreal will take charge of creative aspects of Cinema 226, sourcing projects alongside Salgado.