Arenas wins an ‘Empire’

Pic penned, helmed by Reyes, stars Leguizamo

HOLLYWOOD — Arenas Entertainment, a partnership between Universal Pictures and Marco Polo Investments, has acquired distribution rights in the U.S. and Spain for its first feature release, “Empire,” starring John Leguizamo.

Written and directed by Franc Reyes and produced and financed by New York-based Bigel/Mailer Films, “Empire” will be released in all other territories by Fireworks Pictures, a division of Fireworks Entertainment.

“Empire,” which premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, is the debut of musician/choreographer-turned-writer/director Reyes. Cast also includes Denise Richards, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabella Rossellini and Sonia Braga, with a score by Ruben Blades.

Produced by Daniel Bigel and Michael Mailer (“Two Girls and a Guy”), “Empire” is the story of street-wise gangster who tries to escape his criminal past in the South Bronx. He partners with a powerful investment banker only to discover there’s a bigger price to pay.

Arenas CEO Santiago Pozo founded his distribution operation last fall as a joint venture between U and Marco Polo, Spain’s leading venture capital firm.