Netflix has acquired global rights to David Pablos’ “Las Elegidas” from Mundial, the joint sales venture of Stuart Ford’s IM Global and Canana, the production-sales company of Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz.
Produced by Cruz, Pablos’ breakthrough movie recently scored 13 nominations for Mexico’s Ariel Academy Awards. “The Chosen Ones” was also the first Spanish-speaking title to be announced last year for the Cannes Festival, where it screened in Un Certain Regard. It will bow on Netflix from May 8. Global deal obviously does not not include territories licensed by Mundial. ARP Selection, one of France’s premier art-house distributors, acquired French rights to “The Chosen Ones” in the run-up to Cannes last-year, for instance.
Written by Pablos – with Pedro Peirano, the screenwriter of Pablo Larrain’s Oscar-nominated “No” and co-scribe on Sebastian Silva’s “The Maid” serving as a script consultant – “The Chosen Ones” followed on Pablos’ debut, “The Life After,” a teen brother road movie that, remarkably for a graduation film, played Venice Horizons in 2013. Shot in Tijuana, Pablos’ native town – the film’s leads, Oscar Torres, and Nancy Lourdes Talamantes are locals – “The Chosen Ones” turns on 15-year-old, Ulises, groomed by his father to enamor young girls, tricking them into prostitution. But he falls for Sofia, his first victim, who’s just 14. To save her, his father demands he seduces a second girl, entangling Ulises in the world of juvenile prostitution that he was trying to avoid. Escape from it comes at a very high price.
“Though set in the world of juvenile prostitution, this is a film about characters, the relationship between Ulises and Sofia, how it’s transformed,” Pablos told Variety.
He added: “The story’s seen from the masculine point of view. What moved me was to have someone born into a specific context, where he’s obliged to do certain things because of family tradition, suddenly question the world he’s in and doubt what he’s doing.”
Pablos and Cruz are now teaming on an adapatation of Roberto Bolaño’s “The Savage Detectives,” for many the towering achievement of recent Latin American literature, with Pablos writing and set to direct and Cruz producing for Canana.
Deal typifies Netflix’s M.O. of linking with top players in foreign territories as it drives to build catalogue, sometimes facing off with fierce and far more established local players, with a far higher percentage of local product.
Headed by V.P. Cristina Garza, and dedicated sales operation for movies from Latin America, the Latino U.S., Spain and Portugal, IM Global/Canana’s Mundial has cherry-picked many of the region’s top titles, both high-profile plays – Edgar Ramirez starrer “Libertador,” Carlos Moreno’s – and key fiction debuts: Brazilian Fernando Coimbra’s “Wolf at the Door,” and Mexicans Alonso Ruizpalacios’ “Gueros” and, more recently, Alejandra Marquez Abella’s “Semana Santa.” Mundial also taps titles from Canana itself whose credits include Gerardo Naranjo’s “Miss Bala,” Cary Fukunaga’s “Sin Nombre” and the Luna-directed “Abel,” “Cesar Chavez” and “Mr. Pig,” selected for Sundance this year.
IM Global/Canana also moved waves at 2014’s AFM striking for Mundial 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.
Though Netflix strives for 100% global first TV rights on series, as it builds catalog, it looks to be taking a more flexible position on movies, boarding early to acquire global or at least international rights or on finished movies, taking outstanding unsold territories. Paying top dollar, its offer is often one which neither producers nor sales agents want to refuse.