×

San Sebastian: Red Bull Media House Diversifies

Action sports film force plans move into non-sports movies

SAN SEBASTIAN — Red Bull Media House (RBMH), one of the major players shaping the burgeoning action sports movie scene, has set a goal of robust diversification, including movies made outside its hallmark action-sports arena.

Move comes as the highly enthusiastic San Sebastian reaction to Rush Sturges’ “Chasing Niagara,” has persuaded RBMH to invest in a Mexican-Spanish voiceover from Mexico’s Rafa Ortiz. “Chasing Niagara’s” star, big waterfall kayaker Ortiz already delivers the voiceover in “Niagara’s” English-language original which world premiered at San Sebastian Tuesday in fest’s Savage Cinema, launched in 2013 in collaboration with RBMH.

A coming of age tale of friendship structured by Ortiz’s preparations, aided by Sturges and Evan Garcia, to run the Niagara Falls, “Chasing Niagara” will make its North American premiere in October at Mexico’s Docs DF Mexico City Intl. Documentary Film Festival where its sales campaign will begin.

“Beyond Brazil, Mexico is the second most relevant market in Latin America and I hope [success there] will have a Latin American ripple effect,” Philipp Manderla, RBMH head of feature films, said at San Sebastian.

“Also, I talked to some Mexican producers here who said that Mexicans were looking for relatable hero stories. ‘Chasing Niagara’ is a documentary. But Ortiz is certainly someone many Mexicans can look up to.”

A flagship RBMH title at November’s upcoming American Film Market, along with the sequel to “The Art of Flight,” “Chasing Niagara” will receive a home entertainment release, conditional on theatrical distribution.

“We’re looking at Q2 next year, spring in the U.S. hemisphere, a good time for kayaking, customizing the release algorithm according to interest,” Manderla commented.

Sturges’ River Roots shingle produced “Chasing Niagara” for RBMH, which fully-financed and takes all rights, the same set-up as on “The Art of Flight” and its sequel, where Jackson-based Brain Farm produces for RBMH. But RBMH is ringing multiple production and distribution options, Manderla said. It can produce in-house, as on “Cerro Torre” and now “Blood Road,” which follows a U.S. mountain biker who visits Vietnam where she retraces the place where he died. It can fully-finance, taking all rights. Or co-produce, taking select rights, as on Guido Perinni’s “Degrees North,” starring free-rider snowboarder Xavier de la Rue, which also world premiered this week in San Sebastian’s Savage Cinema.

Options for the theatrical play of RBMH movies also range widely. Released Dec. 25, “Streif: One Hell of a Ride,” about Kitzbuhel’s Hahnenkamm skiing race, including the race down the Streif – billed as the Super Bowl of the winter sports world – was the most successful local movie of the year at the Austrian box office, battling it out with Ridley Scott epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings” for the No. 1 B.O. crown.

“Cerro Torre” played the Banff Mountain Film Festival and its World Tour, which amplified its theatrical reach.

The U.S. premiere of “Streif” will now take place on Nov. 3 in New York’s East Village, with U.S. Alpine ski racer Daron Rahlves, film’s director Daron Samina and Axel Naglich, Streif Race director and movie consultant, in attendance.

“What is crucial is that even though we involve ourselves with the production, we make a great effort to enhance the individuality of each project. We’ve found a level of engagement that allows us to give each film its space and place, but allows us to attach ourselves to more content,” Manderla said.

Now RBMH wants to broaden its gamut all the more.

“We’re a strong force in the action sports market but I think our ambition goes much further. So the approach is two-fold. On the one hand, we want to involve ourselves in projects that transcend this, and make sure the projects are interesting to people outside of their respective discipline, working with the most creative and best productions we find or develop ourselves,” Manderla said.

The second trajectory, however, is diversification. “You will see films coming out of Red Bull Media House that aren’t about action sports, or sports for that matter,” he added.

Per Manderla, RBMH is “already in development and consideration of various non-sports features.” Watch this slot.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content