EXCLUSIVE: Antonio Banderas’ Green Moon, Tarak Ben Ammar’s Paris-based Quinta Communications and Spanish conglom Vertice 360 are in advanced negotiations to launch a pan-European production-distribution alliance spanning Spain, France and Italy.
The trio will co-produce and co-finance a slate of feature films, kicking off with Gabe Ibanez’s $35 million “Automata,” starring Banderas.
They will also partner on Banderas’ third directorial outing, “Solo,” which he also toplines.
Vertice Sales handles international rights for “Solo” and “Automata.”
Hard-core sci-fi, but with film noir and Western” influence, “Automata” is an epic futuristic vision of a human civilization finally overtaken by artificial intelligence, as the Earth’s ecosystem verges on collapse, Ibanez said. It tracks an insurance agent for robotics corp. ROC, who investigates a seemingly routine case of robot manipulation. Ibanez’s debut, “Hierro,” played 2009’s Cannes Critics’ Week.
Written by Javier Donate, Ibanez and Igor Legarreta, “Automata” is skedded to commence production later this year, shooting on location in Tunisia and Egypt.
Psychological thriller “Solo” stars Banderas as a special ops soldier back from a war zone, suffering post-conflict trauma, then suddenly confronted with a seemingly nightmarish reality.
Erik Jendresen (“Band of Brothers”) wrote the screenplay from an original story by Banderas and Jendresen.
“This alliance is a great opportunity for European cinema. In times of crisis, this dream unites three film companies and their strengths in their ability to face a challenging new way of making movies,” Banderas said.
Banderas and Vertice closed a joint development-production pact March 2010. Ben Ammar’s involvement — cemented on the shoot of Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Black Gold,” co-starring Banderas — would now take the alliance to another international level, as well as marking Quinta’s entry into Spain.
Ben Ammar said Quinta will distribute “Solo,” “Automata” and other slate films in France and in Italy via Quinta-owned Eagle Pics, Italy’s biggest indie distrib.
Headed by Jose Maria Irissari, Vertice, one of Spain’s largest production and post-production companies, will distribute in its home country. Quinta owns a swathe of French post-production companies, plus studios in Tunisia. Ben Ammar is a partner of Luc Besson on Paris’ Cite du Cinema Paris Studios.
“Together, we will look at European projects, co-producing and distributing,” said Ben Ammar, adding, “Between the value of the market, soft money, tax deals, studios, post-production and competitive costs, Europe is now a serious market to finance films up to $30 million without having to call on the U.S. or Asia.”