Magazine article Variety

EMPIRE in the Sun

Magazine article Variety

EMPIRE in the Sun

Article excerpt

Mexican producer Alex Garcia's AG Studios is ready to break ground later this year on a facility in New Orleans, where it plans to shoot three English-language movies back-to-backto-back. But that's just one of several ambitious projects from the 47-year-old Garcia, who has designs set on establishing a wrestling franchise outside Mexico with U.S. partners who include Robert Rodriguez and Mark Burnett, with hopes that their Lucha Libre personae can fuel a Latino Marvel.

It's quite a leap for Garcia, who, despite having invested some $300 million in nearly 100 pics since 2006, hired a publicist recently not to create buzz, but to stanch it. But now that he's relocated to Malibu, he's ready for his closeup.

Garcia launched AG Studios last year, an umbrella company that has absorbed his entertainment biz-related investments - valued at $500 million - in the U.S. and Latin America. The entity includes a $250 million film fund to back pic production, and his investments in an international sales/Mexican distribution unit (Latam Distribution), an animation studio (Anima Estudios), film festivals (Mórbido and Baja in Mexico) and online film platforms such as Slated and Mubi.

At the Louisiana soundstages, AG has three English-language pics teed up: Juan Kuri's directorial debut "Mind Puppets," Colombian adaptation "Luto" and an untitled film from helmer Michel Franco.

Even more ambitious is AG Studio's participation in the Lucha Libre AAA franchise outside Mexico. Along with existing partners Antonio Cue and Dorian Roldan, Garcia tied up with Rodriguez, John Fogelman's FactoryMade Ventures and Burnett to make a Lucha Libre reality series for El Rey Network.

With the lofty objective of creating a Latino Marvel, Lucha Libre AAA and FactoryMade have commissioned the company that created the "Avatar" creatures, Starlight Runner Entertainment, to conceptualize heroes based on the colorful masks the wrestlers wear. "It's scripted theater; children are their biggest fans," Garcia says. "This has the potential to launch in multiple platforms, from comicbooks to films, TV and the Web."

Having been a banker for 20 years, and having managed a diverse number of businesses including a frozen food company, bakery, restaurants, real estate, nightclubs, electronics manufacturing and hotels, Garcia invested in Anima Studios in 2006. When Jose Padilha's 2007 "Elite Squad," one of the first live-action pics he backed, won the 2008 Berlin Golden Bear, he was hooked.

He has kept his investments modest, not spending more than $10 million on a project as a rule. …

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