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Lucha Libre Wrestling Looks to Cross Borders With New Licensing Pact

FactoryMade Ventures to grow sport in U.S. and other territories outside Mexico

Lucha Libre’s colorful masked wrestlers are looking to travel.

Organizers behind the wrestling entertainment experience that has been popular mostly in Mexico since the 1930s have paired up with FactoryMade Ventures to grow the sports league in the United States and other overseas territories.

Through the partnership with Lucha Libre AAA, FactoryMade will help reinvent the sport by producing live events, broker sponsorships and pay-per-view TV deals, develop scripted and non-scripted series and grow the brand’s licensing and merchandise biz.

Goal is to take the league, which is a household name in the Latino community and the second most popular sport behind soccer, and make it a dynamic, general audience entertainment brand in the U.S., according to FactoryMade’s execs John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa.

Joint venture will hold exclusive licenses in all territories excluding Mexico to the wrestling league, including its brand, more than 250 characters known as Luchadores and its multi-platform entertainment formats. Company’s events already have taken place in New York City’s Madison Square Garden, San Jose’s HP Pavilion, the Los Angeles Sports Arena and Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. 

As part of the effort, the companies are also working with transmedia specialist Starlight Runner Entertainment to develop multiplatform entertainment projects for Lucha Libre to introduce the sport to new audiences.

Company has previously worked on “Avatar,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Transformers” and Microsoft’s “Halo,” and with Coca-Cola, Mattel and Pepperidge Farm on projects.

“The team united behind bringing Lucha Libre AAA to the United States has provided us with an extraordinary opportunity to use our transmedia techniques to build an exciting multi-platform world of heroes, villains and spectacle,” said Starlight Runner CEO Jeff Gomez.

The FactoryMade deal was brokered with Lucha Libre AAA owners Marisela Peña Herrada, Joaquín Roldán Retana and Dorian Roldán Peña, and Antonio Cué Sánchez-Navarro, a real estate, finance and sports entrepreneur in Mexico.

FactoryMade was recently launched by CEO Fogelman, a former WME board member, and co-CEO Patwa, previously head of WME’s strategic planning arm.

The two have previously worked with corporate brands Telefonica and JCP; and helped grow Hasbro’s film and TV business, which has resulted in the “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” franchises, as well as The Hub kids cabler, with Discovery Communications. They also developed a digital gaming and commerce platform with HSN called HSN Arcade.

Lucha Libre becomes the latest Latin-themed venture in FactoryMade’s portfolio after partnering on Tres Pistoleros Studios and the El Rey Network, an English-language U.S. cable channel, with Robert Rodriguez, that’s backed by Comcast Corp and which launches Jan. 1, 2014.

Lucha Libre AAA was founded in 1992 by Antonio Peña Herrada, and has become Mexico’s dominant wrestling league with an audience of 1 million people who watch more than 1,000 live events per year. The company’s five hours of programming a week air on three TV channels in Mexico: Galavisión, Televisa Deportes Network and TVC Deportes. It also has a strong merchandise, licensing, gaming, movies and digital media biz, and is backed by sponsors including Corona, Ford, Telcel and Comex.

“Our partnership with FactoryMade enables us to transform our league for viewers beyond Mexico in a way that leverages the rich history and legacy of one of Latin America’s most popular entertainment experiences over the last 20 years,” said Dorian Roldán.

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