Wild Bunch takes stake in Spain’s Vertigo

Deal opens up distribution, production opportunities

Gallic sales agent, distributor and producer Wild Bunch has acquired a majority stake in Spanish independent distributor Vertigo Films.

The deal, the biggest likely to be unveiled during this year’s San Sebastian Film Festival, was announced Tuesday by the partners as Wild Bunch execs hit the Spanish event for Nacho Vigalondo’s “Extraterrestrial,” on which it handles international rights.

The equity purchase, made through a cash injection, is not a buyout, Wild Bunch’s Vincent Grimond said.

Andres Martin will continue to head Vertigo as its general manager.

Deal adds another significant strand to Wild Bunch’s pan-European distribution network. It already operates Wild Bunch Distribution in France and Wild Bunch Germany; in Germany it partners with Senator in Central Film. It also has a distribution partnership in Italy with BIM, in which it has held a minority stake since 2007.

Going forward, Vertigo — which will retain its name — will still buy outside its Wild Bunch relationship, and Wild Bunch Intl. will sell to third parties in Spain.

The partnership will allow Vertigo to compete far more muscularly for larger titles, sometimes via multiterritory buys, Martin said.

Some of Vertigo’s highest-grossing hits in recent years have been Wild Bunch-sold titles, including “The Concert” and “City of God.” Vertigo just acquired “360” and “Polis” from Wild Bunch, Martin added. The deal opens up other doors.

“The portfolio we have in Spain today makes it easy for us to satisfy any kind of need,” said Grimond.

Going forward, the partnership increases Vertigo’s capacity — and through Vertigo, Wild Bunch’s too — for involvement in Spanish production.

As a sales agent, Wild Bunch has scored spectacular international sales results on a bevy of upscale Spanish genre titles, such as Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth,” Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Orphanage” and, this year, Kike Maillo’s Venice player “Eva.”

Wild Bunch also enjoys close film-by-film working relationships with Spanish production houses Madrid’s Morena, Apaches Ent. and Barcelona’s Escandalo,

Wild Bunch has moved smartly under exec Gael Nouaille to cherrypick choice Latin American titles, such as Mexico’s cannibal family drama “We Are What We Are” or Colombia’s “El oaramo,” nursing them to multiple overseas deals.

Spain is looking for ever-closer co-production relations with Latin America.

Beyond that, “distribution is changing, dramatically and drastically,” said Grimond.

Both companies are VOD pioneers: Wild Bunch launched the FilmoTV cable VOD channel three years ago, while Vertigo co-founded Spanish indie Internet movie portal Filmin.

Both are now in a better position to take advantage of electronic distribution in Spain.