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Pantelion Nabs U.S. Rights to ‘Man of Stone’

Derbez-starrer is latest attempt at Mexico/U.S. crossover

MADRID – Pantelion Films, a Lionsgate/Televisa joint venture, has acquired U.S. distribution rights to dramedy “Man of Stone,” produced by Mexico City’s Alebrije, which aims to straddle movie markets either side of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The road to the U.S. Hispanic market is littered with the bones of failed ventures.

However, “Stone’s” chances are boosted by the combination of a bilingual and bi-location story — set in Acapulco and L.A. — with one of the biggest Latino stars around, Eugenio Derbez. Thesp hosts his own shows on Televisa and Univision and toplines telenovelas including “La Familia P. Luche.”

Now in post, “Stone” is Derbez’s directorial debut. He also stars as an Acapulco-based womanizing bachelor who discovers paternal joy with a daughter he never knew he had, snags a job as a Hollywood-stuntman, only to be forced to fight a custody-battle for his daughter.

Derbez co-starred in Patricia Riggen’s “Under the Same Moon,” which broke out Stateside and in Mexico, earning $12.6 million for the Weinstein Co. and $9.6 million south of the border.

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“No eres tu, soy yo,” also starring Derbez, caught fire in Mexico, with $9.9 million, and took $1.3 million in the U.S.

Lionsgate will perform test screenings to decide the scale of “Stone’s” U.S. release, said Lozano, producer of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Amores perros,” which punched $5.4 million for Lionsgate in the U.S.

“ ‘Man of Stone’ can really connect with the Hispanic market in the south of the U.S., and could cross-over to the Anglo market,” Alebrije owner-producer Monica Lozano said.

In Mexico, Televisa-owned Videocine will bow “Stone” in August on 700 to 1,000 screens, a record for a Mexican film.

In related news, Alebrije and L.A.-Mexico City-based producer Alex Garcia have also teamed with Pablo Baksht at Lo Coloco Films to produce 2D toon feature “Ana and Bruno.”

Helmed by Carlos Carrera (“The Crime of Father Amaro”), the family-friendly tale turns on an 8-year-old girl who is helped by a buck-toothed creature and its friends to look for her lost father.

Lo Coloco has finished 30 minutes of animation. Part of the remaining animation will now be carried out at Mexico City’s Anima Estudios, in which Garcia partners, Lozano said.

The company also is teaming with Lady Leonor and Agencia SHA to produce “The Obscure Spring,” about a torrid love affair. It is now in its fourth week of production. Jose Maria Yazpik (“I’m So Excited”), Cecilia Suarez (“Spanglish”) and Irene Azuela (“Miss Bala”) star; Ernesto Contreras directs. His debut, “Blue Eyes,” was a Cannes Critics’ Week player.

Produced by Alebrije and grossing $5.6 million, Carlos Bolado’s “Colosio: El Asesinato,” a thriller based on the assassination of a Mexican presidential candidate in 1994, was Mexico’s biggest local hit last year.

Bowing at 2012’s Venice festival, another Alebrije production, Emilio Maille’s doc “Multiple Visions, the Crazy Machine,” about the Mexican films lensed by cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, drew a rave review from Variety as “a fascinating master-class in cinematographic philosophy.”

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