D Street Media Group is creating a $40 million-$50 million fund for Latin American films, with Disney-backed Patagonik Film Group set to co-produce at least five features.
The U.S. and Germany-based distribution and production house will pool funds from investors to back projects with budgets ranging from $400,000 to $5 million, according to D Street production VP Javier Krause, who expects to work on 10-20 features over the next five to 10 years.
D Street has signed a letter of intent with Buenos Aires-based Patagonik, Latin America's biggest film production company.
Patagonik is a specialist in successful commercial mainstream and indie fare. Its latest comedy, "Igualita a mi" (The Same as Me), is the hottest local draw of the year in Argentina.
A possible first for the fund is "Camino a New Orleans" (Road to New Orleans), which D Street has optioned. Written by Argentina's Fabian Iriarte, it's about a debt collector facing a challenge.
D Street is eyeing father-daughter relationship tale "Air," from Argentine scribe Maria Laura Gargarella, who wrote the 2008 hit romantic comedy "Motivos para no enamorarse" (Reasons for Not Falling in Love).
D Street expects to start the first project from the fund by the end of 2011.
"There's a lot of talent in Latin America. Many films are made on barely anything and go on to travel the world," Krause said. "But there is not much access to financing."
The timing is good. While Europe and the U.S. are suffering economic slowdowns, Latin America is flourishing, and new funding sources are sprouting up, so far mostly in Brazil. This is a selling point for investing in the fund, either in cash or production, said Krause.
D Street is spreading its net globally, looking not only to Europe, Latin America's traditional source of coin, but to Asia, South Africa and the U.S.
"The funds can come from anywhere," Krause said, citing the $1 million that carmaker Volkswagen put into the distribution of D Street's North American release of "Summer in Berlin."
D Street is pushing forward with its own projects. "The Blue Mauritius," to be helmed by Alexander Witt ("Resident Evil: Apocalypse"), will lense in 2011 or 2012, with Uruguay's Natalia Oreiro to star. English-lingo pic is about five thieves out to steal a valuable postage stamp in Berlin.
Also in the pipeline is John G. Young's "Paradise," a look at the New York art and club scene through pop artist Keith Haring's eyes, and "Somewhere Slow," about a saleswoman out to escape her dull life. Both are skedded for release in 2012