Phoenix rises in U.S.

Latin American distrib looks to domestic biz

MADRID — Pan-Latin-American distributor and rights broker Phoenix World Investments Intl. will establish a U.S.-based distribution company, PWI USA, focusing on domestic distribution of foreign films.

Prexy will be L.A.-based producer Lawrence Mortorff, executive producer of “A Dog of Flanders” and “The Last Time I Committed Suicide,” among other pics.

PWI USA, which will acquire films for theatrical and DVD release, expects to be up and running by the fall.

PWI sealed pan-Latin American rights on a clutch of high-profile pics at the Cannes Film Festival, which wrapped Sunday.

Also, PWI has reached an in-principle deal to produce pics at Mexico City’s Estudios Churubusco. These could be Mexican titles or PWI, and Churubusco could contribute to the below-the-line costs on U.S. or European productions.

PWI’s Cannes rights deals added some traction to a lackluster market for buying activity from Latin America.

They also confirm L.A.-/Chile-based PWI Intl, which is headed by vet producer-distributor Arturo Feliu, as one of the only indies prepared to make pan-regional, all-rights buys.

PWI is focusing on upscale commercial pics. It committed $10 million on Cannes deals including “The Jacket,” toplining Mark Wahlberg, from Summit; StudioCanal’s “Crimson Rivers 2 — The Angels of Apocalypse”; Val Kilmer starrer “Wonderland” from Lions Gate; and, from Franchise, “Tristan and Isolde,” helmed by Kevin Reynolds, and the David Mamet-directed “Spartan.”

A large part of PWI Intl.’s distribution power in Latin America comes from an output deal for Mexico with Televisa Cine, the pic production-distribution arm of Televisa and one of Mexico’s most powerful distribs.

PWI has a direct distribution op in Chile. In other countries it sub-distributes through associate companies such as Gateno Films in Peru, Cines Unidas in Uruguay and Cine Columbia in Columbia.

It is backed by the Feliu Group in Chile, which has interests in the energy and mining sectors.

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