ANNECY – Spain’s biggest animation play of 2015 – and one of its two-or-three biggest films of the year – Enrique Gato’s “Capture the Flag” will be released by Paramount Pictures on Aug. 28, replicating one of the most successful new business models emerged in the international movie industry in last decade: Big broad broadcast network backing; a movie production of sufficient caliber and scale to warrant this marketing push.
“Capture” could hardly have stronger backing. Paramount Pictures has acquired worldwide distribution rights. Two of Spain’s most powerful producers, Telecinco Cinema, who co-produced both “Spanish Affair” and “The Impossible,” which grossed €42.4 million ($47.3 million) in Spain; Telefonica Studios, whose credits include “Wild Tales,” “Underdogs” and upcoming movies by Alex de la Iglesia and Pablo Trapero, plus “Capture” originator-screenwriter and producer Jordi Gasull and producer Edmond Roch, partners at 4 Cats Pictures. Nicolas Matji’s Lightbox Animation Studios delivers animation. Mediaset España has taken free-to-air rights, paybox Canal Plus pay TV and Movistar TV pay TV/VOD rights.
“Capture the Flag” is Spain’s big toon hope of 2015. That now means something. Telecinco Cinema, Gato, Gasull, Roch, Lightbox and Telefonica previously teamed on “Tad, the Lost Explorer,” listed by a keystone European Audiovisual Observatory report presented at Annecy, “Focus on Animation,” as Europe’s third highest-grossing independently-financed animation film over 2010-14, after “Paddington” and “Sammy’s Adventures.” Worldwide gross for “Tad” is around $60 million, Gasull said at Annecy.
Day and date, Telecinco Cinema CEO Ghislain Barrois, Gasull and Matji went public for the first time at an Annecy MIFA market Work in Progress on multiple details of “Capture’s” genesis, story line, production and promotion, as Mediaset España fired off more details from Spain. Together the Annecy WIP and Mediaset announcements brought down the flag on one of the most muscular movie marketing campaigns that Spain will see this year.
Dani Rovira, star of “Spanish Affair,” which grossed a jaw-dropping $61.9 million last year, will lead “Flag’s” voice cast, Mediaset España announced. Key cast also features Michelle Jenner, popular in Spain for her role as Isabella I of Castile in hit pubcaster TVE series “Isabel.” Auryn, Spain’s boys band phenom, will deliver two songs, one in English, “Te Sigo,” and “I’ll Reach You.”
Spain’s biggest broadcast network, Mediaset España will promote “Capture the Flag” across its free-to-air channels, that punched a 31.2% total market share in May. That’s a marketing muscle that no Hollywood studio could afford to buy. Mediaset will look to replicate the ingenuity of its event movie push “Tad, the Lost Explorer” campaign though “Capture” is a very different movie, Barrois said at Annecy.
It played a promo during transmission of Spain’s King’s Cup final.
“‘Capture the Flag’ is a very family movie,” Barrois said. “It’s typically the film that the kids will love, the parents won’t sleep through out of boredom.”
Aug. 28 is prime box office real estate in Spain.
Barrois commented: “Something we’ve learned is that people are shortening their holidays, they’re not taking a month anymore, they take two weeks. So they come back early” and need something to take their kids to.
Part of the essence of “Capture’s” animation drive has nothing to do with animation at all, but rather that oft forgotten bedrock on animation films, the screenplay.
Said Gasull: “Guillermo Arriaga once told me: ‘When you write a movie think of one word that embodies the essence of the movie and try to stick to it and be faithful to it.’ So I was thinking about ‘Capture the Flag’ and the key word was ‘reconciliation.’”
“There are two facts that are not very well known that we used in the movie,” Barrois said at Annecy.
“The first is that many people believe that man has never put a foot on the moon, that it is all a montage of Hollywood. The second: On the moon lies a mineral called Helion 3 that could power France’s energy needs for a year with just 25 kilos,” Barrois added
“Capture the Flag” turns on Mike Goldwing, a plucky, determined 12-year-old kid who lives in Florida, son and grandson of astronauts, whose grandfather Frank was meant to fly to the moon with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on Apollo XI. Until a few days before the moon mission, his baby son, now Mike’s father, got chicken-pox and Frank had to pull out. Blaming his son for the frustration of his whole career and horrified at this sense of blame, Frank has distanced himself from the family.
When a dastardly Texas billionaire, Richard Carson, plans to fly to the moon, destroy the Apollo XI flag, claim that the moon landings never happened and claim the moon’s vast mineral sources for himself, and the U.S government launches its own moon mission, Mike determines to stowaway on the rocket to help frustrate Carson but above all ensure at least one Goldwig gets to the moon, ending his family’s frustration and reconciling his grandpa and dad.
Lightbox’s Matji took the Annecy Work in Progress audience through the animation of “Capture the Flag.” With Gasull, a self-confessed space-geek, Lightbox set out to replicate nearly bolt for bolt the 40-year-old rocket used by the U.S government to launch a moon-mission, for lack of any modern moon vehicle, the NASA control room, with its surprisingly humdrum all dun green control panels, even the walkway used by astronauts to get to rockets.
Lightbox has been using 400 computers to render “Capture the Flag.” But even that is not enough so it has hired the second most powerful computer in Spain, in the Canary Islands, which also has the Tenerife Symphonic Orchestra, often used in Spanish films, and a composer, Diego Navarro, who composed the film’s score.
Canary Islands elements allowed the producers to tap into a 38% deduction tax shelter on Canary Island spend, crucial as they attempted to finance a movie which will have to bear comparison with Hollywood’s finest.