IM Global in Talks With Canana, Ciro Guerra for Latin American TV Production (EXCLUSIVE)

John Hopewell
Variety

LOS CABOS, Mexico — Backed now by the might of China’s Tang Media and Ten Cent, production, financing and sales company IM Global is in talks with Mexico and L.A.-based Canana and Colombia’s Ciro Guerra, director of Academy Award nominated “Embrace of the Serpent,” to move into Latin American TV production, leveraging IM Global’s now hiked financial resources and already consolidated distribution clout.

Announced by IM Global founder-CEO Stuart Ford at Los Cabos Film Investors Summit on Thursday, where he delivered its keynote speech, the move into the Latino TV space is planned for 2017. It follows the announcement in June that China’s Tencent, IM Global and Reliance Entertainment are creating a new TV production joint venture, incorporating IM Global TV and operating a deficit financing TV production investment fund.

Headed by Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz, Canana moved waves at last year’s American Film Market, announcing an adaptation of Chilean writer Roberto Boloño’s “The Savage Detectives,” directed by David Pablos (“The Chosen Ones”) and produced by Cruz.

Considered on elf the towering achievements of recent Latin American literature, the massive tome runs from 1975 to 1996, and deals with the fate of groups of “visceral realists,” Mexican poet rebels who set out in the 1970s to tear down Latin America’s literary establishment.

One large question is the ideal format for “The Savage Detectives,” how it could be adapted for any screen, large or small.  That is now the subject of one series of potential TV series talks – natural given IM Global and Canana’s close working relationship since they launched joint Latin America movie sales venture, Mundial, in December 2012.

Ford also confirmed to Variety that IM Global is also in talks with Colombia’s Ciro Guerra about another potential TV series collaboration. This would reflect Guerra’s hallmark focus on Colombian and Latin American realities.

One major narrative at October’s Mipcom trade fair in Cannes was the plunge of big, deep -pocketed companies – Disney, Sony – into TV fiction production around the world where they can bring far larger resources to the table predicated on a distribution way beyond a commission from a key broadcaster in the series; country of origin. That is a strategy which IM Global can also leverage.

For Canana and Guerra’s Ciudad Lunar, the Bogota-based production label run by his partner, Cristina Gallego, higher-end TV series offers the visceral creative attraction of huge audiences for the upscale, socially grounded fiction which they have for a decade made in the form of movies.

Latin American TV production was “the missing part of the jigsaw,” Ford told Screen International U.S. editor Jeremy Kay during his keynote at the Film Investor Summit, organised by Winston Baker, where he argued that there was a logic to the move, given IM Global has entered TV production and runs Mundial.

In TV production, “Using its capability, IM Global is committing to a pretty big spread all over the map in terms of U.S. and foreign partners,” Ford added.

The main focus of Ford’s keynote, however, was the evolution of the film and TV business in a world of globalization.

“In five, eight, ten years time, I think the buyer for premium feature films made outside the Hollywood system, will be the same buyer for premium TV drama and premium niche content, whether that be Spanish or Chinese-speaking, and the same buyer for volume – TV and film library,” Ford predicted.

He added: “There’s only one profile of buyer which wants it all: That’s the digital arena of SVOD and TVOD outlets.

Ford explained that IM Global had “pushed so aggressively into TV production and financing” to be one of “a relatively small number of companies that are providing it all.”

Ford also detailed how Mundial, launched with “a highly credible partner, Canana,” as a sales company for mostly upscale Latin American films, had “expanded its remit” under Cristina Garza.

“In  tandem with the evolution of the market, Mundial has founded digital platforms, mostly in the U.S., but also internationally for its library content.” Ford said. It has also become “an effective aggregator for platforms such as Netflix,” and “has started to become a Latino film studio.”

Here, Mundial can benefit from IM Global symbiosis, Ford argued. Playing “in the IM Global sphere of companies puts Mundial executives into a relationship with pretty well every substantive distributor in the world, including Latin America,” he said.

He went on: “Sometimes, within the context of IM Global and some of the bigger Hollywood movies we’re lucky enough to look after, we can find those distribution homes. Once a distributor is a little bit invested in a film, it can travel,” Ford added, instancing the Mundial-sold “Gueros,” released in 30-plus territories.

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