Barcelona-based private investment fund Suma Capital has taken a 40% stake in Adolfo Blanco’s A Contracorriente Films, aimed to boost the Spanish distributor’s movie acquisition capacity, to transform it into one of Europe’s leading indie distribution houses.
Estimated at about €15 million ($17.9 million), the investment combines a capital increase with the purchase of shares from some minority partners.
Under siblings Adolfo Blanco, CEO, and Amalia Blanco, president, A Contracorriente’s well-known management team will maintain control of the company and continue to manage day-to-day operations.
Suma Capital’s financial support will speed up A Contracorriente’s transformation and help evaluate different strategic alternatives, both organic and non-organic expansion.
“It is clear that a part of our natural growth has to come by way of assuming bigger budget projects,“ Adolfo Blanco told Variety.
“As we are a very active distributor in terms of film releases – about 30 a year – the way to improve is to substitute smaller or less commercial films by others that are more commercial, with higher budgets,” Blanco said.
A priority action for A Contracorriente’s new acquisitions policy is the U.S. market, where the Spanish distributor is already talking to several producers and sales agents, studying formulas that would allow access to premium film productions.
“We will take advantage of opportunities that sometimes we have ignored out of business prudence. Now, we are not going to lose that prudence, but we are clearly going to gain the punch that is needed in this business,” Blanco added.
“We are delighted to add our commitment to the project led by Adolfo and his team, to see that they have all the resources they need to consolidate their position as leaders in the growing audiovisual content sector,” said David Arroyo, a partner at Suma Capital, which channeled the operation via investment vehicle Suma Capital Growth Fund II.
Founded in Barcelona in 2009, A Contracorriente is currently the largest indie film distributor in Spain, managing an extensive and diversified catalog of more than 1,500 movie and TV series titles, sold across cinema theaters, pay and free-to-air TV channels and VOD platforms.
The group’s editorial line consists of quality films suitable for the general public. It mainly focuses on comedies and family movies.
A Contracorriente’s acquisitions team has demonstrated a large ability to identify, acquire, and distribute some landmark movie productions, such as “The Intouchables,” “The Father,” “Serial (Bad) Weddings,” “ The Best Summer of My Life,” “Mia and the White Lion,” and “Ballerina,” among others.
The group has a unique and vertically integrated business model within the Spanish audiovisual market, being present throughout the value chain.
It operates in Spain’s exhibition sector through Cines Verdi and Cines Conde Duque, two well-known brands, with five emblematic movie theaters in Madrid and Barcelona, boasting a total capacity of over 4,000 seats.
The company co-produces three-to-four movie titles a year, securing global distribution rights on both Spanish and international films such as Isabel Coixet’s 2018 worldwide sales and box office hit “The Bookshop.”
Closely linked to current market dynamics, co-production represents another growth vector for A Contracorriente. It recently co-produced with Eduardo Campoy’s Álamo Producciones Martín Cuervo’s comedy “Con quién viajas” (“Carpoolers”), which world premiered at the Malaga Film Festival this June.
“Right now it is easier to embark on certain film projects if you do so from the very get-go, and the best way is joining as co-producers,” Blanc argued.
“There are movements with international production companies to create vehicles that invest in co-productions to ensure titles of maximum potential,” he revealed.
In the digital arena, in early 2020 A Contracorriente launched online streaming platform Sala Virtual de Cine, a Spanish TVOD film service that collaborates with cinemas to complement their traditional business. It also operates dedicated movie channels Cines Verdi TV and Cine Feel Good Verdi TV.
Houlihan Lokey, headquartered in L.A., served as the financial advisor to A Contracorriente shareholders and Araoz & Rueda acted as the group’s legal advisor. Bufete Castilla, KPMG and Attalea Partners acted as advisors to Suma Capital on the operation.
A Contracorriente Films becomes the third investee of Suma Capital Growth Fund II, following the entry operations into the shareholding of Basque training course program Implika and Npaw, an online video analysis software company based in Barcelona.