IM Global-Canana’s Mundial Shakes Up Latin America Film Industry

In December 2012, IM Global shook Latin America by unveiling Mundial, an international sales joint venture with Canana, the production house founded by Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz with bases in Mexico City and Los Angeles. At November’s American Film Market, IM Global again made waves, announcing an exclusive output deal for Spanish-language titles from Alex Garcia’s AG Studios, a film production-financing empire with companies in Mexico, the U.S., Colombia and Brazil.

Latin American expansion will not stop there.

IM Global is backing a new L.A.-based film/TV production and management company serving Latino and international talent across film, TV and music. Founding principals are Carlos Bobadilla as head of lit and Brandon Guzman as head of talent.

It also hopes to announce a strategic deal with a top Brazilian production company in or around Cannes.

“From a filmmaking perspective, we’re excited about Latin America and wanted an entry into that world,” Ford says. “On a corporate level, it’s a way to expand our extensive sales platform and play in yet another sandbox.”

The Mundial and AG Studios deals allow IM Global to bring its full-service international distribution platform to top-echelon Latino content, says Ford. Scale also matters. Mundial owns a catalog of 35 Latin American films, which looks more valuable as two markets — Latin American pay TV and the U.S. Latino market — are growing in size.

Mundial has become “an active broker of more volume-driven library deals into the U.S. from Latin America and to Latin American pay TV platforms,” Ford says. “That allows it to play at a more corporate level, adding more volume and heft to its economics.”

Mundial has inked a deal with Kino Lorber to exploit a catalog of Latin American films on U.S. homevideo under the Spanish-language label Sol y Luna, says Mundial exec VP Cristina Garza. It is negotiating further deals with strong U.S. VOD and pay TV players, as well as with a pan-Latin America pay TV channel, she adds.

Complementing foreign sales, “A new Mundial initiative is to aggressively acquire Latin films for the growing U.S. Hispanic market,” she says.

Partners praise Ford’s market knowledge. “From day one when we started conversations about forming Mundial, it was very clear Stuart really knew what was happening around the world,” says Canana partner Cruz.

“IM Global was the first U.S. sales company that saw the opportunity to create a specific company for Latin America,” says AG Studios founder Garcia. “Its challenge is for Latin America to start creating and writing stories that travel. The next step to help grow the region would be for IM Global to invest in Latin American films.”

Ford thinks that “in some ways, Mundial’s holy grail is to find high-class filmmakers and films and break them out. It’s only a matter of time before we have an ‘Amores Perros,’ or a ‘Central Station.’ ”

He foresees further growth in production and financing.

“We’ve been waiting for the jumping-off point to become an investor in the Latino content market,” Ford says.

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