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Latin America’s Sun Shines on Indie Biz (EXCLUSIVE)

Johnny Depp starrer ‘Black Mass’ among several high-profile buys

MEXICO CITY — Making good on its status as one of the world’s most muscular buyers of the biggest U.S. independent movies out, Buenos Aires-based Sun Distribution Group has closed Latin America on a near roll call of the weightiest titles unveiled last month at the Berlin festival.

Among new buys: Exclusive Media’s “Black Mass,” with Johnny Depp as Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger, Barry Levinson helming; Nu Image/Millennium’s “Hercules 3D”; and IM Global’s teen femme fantasy “Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters,” which made waves at Berlin when Harvey Weinstein swooped on U.S. rights.

Also in Sun’s Berlin cart, said Sun’s Tomas Darcyl: FilmNation’s “The Reluctant Professor,” with Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei; and “Solace,” with Anthony Hopkins and Colin Farrell; plus Werner Herzog’s “Queen of the Desert,” starring Naomi Watts and Robert Pattinson.

Sun swooped on “Transcendence,” which Depp looks set to shoot before “Black Mass,” at the American Film Market: Berlin’s “Black Mass” buy thus completes a Depp double.

Sun’s upcoming releases include Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects,” “The Call,” with Halle Berry, family comedy “Escape From Planet Earth,” Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut “Quartet,” as well as “Olympus Has Fallen,” with Aaron Eckhart and Gerard Butler, the Constantin-produced “Mortal Instruments,” “Enders Game,” with Harrison Ford, and Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Sun’s clout is no accident. While its Latin American rivals tend to sub-distribute across the region, Sun has established distribution operations in all Latin America’s major territories using Diamond Films, which it launched in 2010.

“We are the only distributor which works all Latin America, all platforms, with a direct distribution presence in 90% of Latin America, operating Diamond Argentina, Diamond Mexico, Diamond Brazil, Diamond Chile and Diamond Peru,” said Ricardo Costianovsky, who partners with Darcyl and Diego Halabi at Sun.

“That gives us a large advantage, meaning that we create cross-platforms synergies at the moment of a film’s theatrical release,” he added.

Buying 30 movie titles a year, all with a U.S. release, Sun has already seen boffo results distributing many of the biggest indie hits of recent years: “The King’s Speech,” “Midnight in Paris,” “The Hunger Games” and “The Woman in Black,” Darcyl pointed out.

Also, driven by multiplexing and its pay TV window, dynamized by Netflix’s entry into the region, Latin America is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world: All the more reason to take a larger share of a bigger pie.

But, Costianovsky added: “We pay market rates, choosing the best product at reasonable prices. We don’t overpay.”

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