Avellan in talks to produce ‘Santos’

Film is latest project from Nicolas Lopez

In what could be one of her first producing gigs sans former hubby Robert Rodriguez, producer Elizabeth Avellan (“Sin City,” “Grindhouse”) is in advanced talks with Spain’s Drive Ent. and Chile’s Sobras Producciones to co-produce “Santos,” the latest film by Latin American genre auteur Nicolas Lopez.

Run by Miguel Asensio, Sobras is Lopez’s label.

The three companies have also initiated talks to develop an English-language movie from Lopez.

Ideas on the table for Lopez’s English debut include a comicbook adaptation or original idea from Lopez.

No deal has been physically signed as yet on either the co-production or a development alliance, said Drive CEO Jose Manuel Lorenzo.

However, Avellan has already been advising on “Santos” and will view a final cut before the film continues its heavy f/x work.

One possibility for “Santos” would be for part of its f/x to be carried out in Avellan’s home base of Austin, Texas, Lorenzo said.

Avellan is originally from Venezuela. Lopez is Chilean.

The Avellan-Lopez-Lorenzo relationship echoes the informal friendship-driven relationships of other Latino filmmakers, such as, most famously, Guillermo Del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu who will advise on each other’s projects and may come in with production equity where appropriate.

Only this time the friendship spans continents.

Avellan, says the twentysomething Lopez, bowled him over by organizing a birthday party for him on the set of “Sin City.”

The relationship also turns around one of the most singular and ambitious films to come out of the Spanish-speaking world in a long time: “Santos.”

Lopez’s sophomore pic, “Santos” marks the Spanish-speaking world’s first full film immersion in sci-fi f/x film-making, turning on a dweeby comicbook writer forced unwillingly to assume the powers of one of his own comic character, Ball Boy, in order to save the world.

” ‘Santos’ is part manga, part Hollywood sci-fi like ‘Men in Black,’ part Spanish black comedy,” Lopez said.

Lopez’s debut, gross-out comedy “Promedio rojo,” a Chilean high school dorkfest, has become a cult item, and received high praise from Quentin Tarantino and Guillermo Del Toro for being very funny.

A large step-up in resources, Santos is budgeted at $6.4 million. Thirty minutes footage is being screened at Cannes. Lopez has been invited by the L.A. Film Festival to show a montage during a filmmakers’ retreat at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch.

International rights on “Santos” are handled by Spain’s Imagina Intl. U.S. rights are being repped by ICM’s Dan Rabinow, Lopez’s agent.

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