A trio of case studies

The stories behind 'Dragons,' 'PX3D,' 'Luck'

A pic that was rejected as too dark in the U.S., a mainstream bet with international potential and a film with a religious theme. Here are their stories:

“As Luck Would Have It”
Directed by Alex de la Iglesia
“As far as I know, this is the world’s first ‘pre-make,’ ” “Luck” exec-producer Andres Vicente Gomez proclaimed to cast and crew on the podium of Cartagena’s Roman Amphitheater, eastern Spain.

A social satire, “Luck’s” screenplay was written in English by U.S. writer-producer Randy Feldman (“Early Edition,” “Tango & Cash”).

It turns on a ruined publicist (Jose Mota) who accidentally impales his head on a metal bar and then attempts to sell a TV death’s-door interview to save his family, led by his wife (Salma Hayek), from financial ruin.

“Luck” was developed by former-DC Comics prexy Jenette Kahn and ex-Motion Picture Corp. exec Adam Richman, exec producers on “Gran Torino,” via New York-based Double Nickel.

But it never got made Stateside. “In the U.S. people said ‘Luck’ could be too dark. Spain likes this dark humor,” says co-producer Franck Ribiere.

Instead the film was made in Spain in Spanish, after leaping a few more hurdles.

“Unless you have a TV deal in Spain, you can’t make a movie,” says Gomez. Enter Mota, Spain’s biggest TV comedian, who was hankering after a film career.

“No TV station can refuse a Mota film,” Gomez says. Mota read the script and committed.

Gomez then phoned helmer Alex de la Iglesia, whose “Common Wealth” he sold to Kahn and Richman, and told him Mota was in. He read the screenplay, accepted and brought in his regular French co-producers, Ribiere and Verane Frediani.

Ribiere and Frediani’s La Fabrique 2 put up 10% of “Luck’s” €5 million ($7.2 million) budget. France’s Canal Plus has taken Gallic pay TV rights, SND French theatrical and DVD distribution.

Spain’s 80% will be covered by a subsidy of $1.4 million-$1.7 million, pre-buys from pubcaster TVE and Canal Plus Espana for around $1.4 million and $360,000 respectively and a group of private investors, Al Fresco, which produces with Valencia’s Trivision.

The script, Iglesia and Hayek give “Luck” a sporting chance to move into profit off Spanish theatrical and foreign sales.
— John Hopewell

Directed by Sergi Vizcaino

“PX3D,” short for “Paranormal Xperience 3D,” will be Spain’s first 3D genre film, tailor-made for the country’s 3D cinema circuit that now boasts 620 screens.

“It’s a great time to do a youth horror movie in Spain,” says Joaquin Padro of Barcelona’s Rodar y Rodar, whose previous films — “The Orphanage” and “Julia’s Eyes” — grossed $79 million and $15 million worldwide, respectively.

“PX3D” is market-driven — producers Joaquin Padro and Mar Targarona commissioned their 25-year-old son, Daniel Padro, to “write a horror script for people his own age.”

Pic features six students exploring paranormal phenomena in a remote Spanish village.

They called in 26-year-old Sergi Vizcaino, who had been helming shorts and commercials, to direct his first feature.

Antena 3 Films, which co-produced “Julia’s Eyes,” then came on board, followed by Catalonia’s TV3 and Canal Plus Spain.

Public funding includes a subsidy from the ICAA Spanish Film Institute and a grant from Catalonian film agency, ICIC.

Committed to launching an event movie, Padro has teamed up with Sony Pictures Releasing de Espana, and plans an exclusively 3D bow this Christmas.

“Spain is a great territory for the horror genre and the idea of making the first Spanish 3D horror movie was really attractive,” says Sony Spain managing director Ivan Losada. “Animation and horror are the two genres that most benefit from 3D technology.”

Latin American rights have been presold to Mexico’s Quality Films. In mid-April, Delphine Perrier’s Stonebrook Intl. picked up world rights, aiming to sell key territories at Cannes.

Padro plans to dub rather than subtitle the film and is upbeat about its international sales potential given the story, youth appeal and 3D look.

The tight six-week shoot began in May.

“It’s totally different with 3D,” Padro says. “It’s like adapting to a new calligraphy.”

Vizcaino and d.p. Sergio Lopez, who served as second unit director on Juan Antonio Bayona’s upcoming “Impossible,” aim to deliver glossy production values, notwithstanding the €5 million ($7.3 million) budget.

“Xperience 3D” has already generated Internet buzz on specialist sites.

“Internet, virtual communities, buddy networking and social media should be the backbone of the marketing campaign,” says Sony’s Losada.

“I can’t think of a better way to position the movie.”
— Martin Dale

“There Be Dragons”
Directed by Roland Joffe
Budgeted at $36 million and helmed by Brit Roland Joffe (“The Mission”), Spanish Civil War drama “There Be Dragons” stands out as a singular event in Spanish production, raising one key question: How did the producers raise the money?

Turning on a Christian subject — far from a stock concern in European cinema — “Dragons” boasts an atypical financing structure, marking a rare conjunction for continental Europe between the film and finance worlds.

A Spanish-U.S. co-production, “Dragons” is majority-financed by risk capital companies Mount Santa Fe Espana in Spain and, Stateside, Mount Santa Fe.

The investment funds raised 80% of the budget for “Dragons,” providing both with a Spanish Aie tax vehicle to attract foreign capital to a production with the allure of 18% breaks.

Functioning as two so-called feeder funds, the companies formed a master fund, bankrolling the film through the involvement of 100 investors in and outside Spain.

“The risk capital funds and the Aie are very attractive for investors,” says producer Ignacio Gomez-Sancha, CEO of Mount Santa Fe.

“Both parties, even though they are investing through different tax vehicles, are applicable for the same recoupment treatment,” adds producer and Mount Santa Fe Espana partner, Nacho Nunez.

Antena 3 Films and Joffe co-produce. Spain’s ICAA will put up $1.4 million in subsidy coin.

Shot in Argentina and Spain, the film follows the lives of communist revolutionaries and a Catholic saint, Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei.

Also singular: the producers did not seek out Joffe — he came to them.

“We were interested that an agnostic, divorced, English director had a script about the Spanish Civil War and the founder of Opus Dei,” says Nunez. “When we learned it was Roland Joffe, we saw a lot of potential.”

Distributed by Aurum Prods., “Dragons” grossed $2.8 million in its first four weeks in Spain, and struck a clutch of international deals with high-caliber distributors, led by Samuel Goldwyn Films, Stateside.

Paul Lauer’s Santa Monica-based Motive Entertainment, which successfully promoted Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” has started a marketing campaign in the U.S. targeting religious and secular audiences for “Dragons.”

U.S.-based sales agent Bleiberg Entertainment handles international sales at Cannes where “Dragons” hopes to breathe fire into major European territory sales.
— Anson Woodring

Hits trump Spain’s pirates | Law forces rookie nets to pump coin into film | Almodovars rekindle Riviera relationship | Sales execs play up local pic strengths | Case studies | Battling the behemoth | Madrid’s mondo move | Talent on the verge | Choice on Croisette

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