By Jay A. Fernandez | Indiewire May 19, 2012 at 9:38AM
The motto for XYZ Films could be: “Have genre love, will travel.”
With the critical and commercial success of the Indonesia-shot-and-financed action film “The Raid: Redemption,” XYZ partners Nathaniel Bolotin, Nick Spicer, Todd Brown and Aram Tertzakian say that their international cross-pollination theory of low-budget genre filmmaking has beenvalidated. To prove it, they have two back-to-back Indonesia-set films lined up to begin production right after they wrap filming on a “Raid” sequel next spring: “The Night Comes for Us” and “One Good Thing.”
All three films are co-productions with “Raid” writer-director Gareth Evans’ Indonesia-based PT Merantau Films. With budgets barely bigger than “The Raid”’s $1 million, the XYZ crew banks on a model designed to recoup production costs with local audiences; additional international box office is profit.
“The Raid,” which stars Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim and Yayan Ruhian in a wall-to-wall fight movie about a SWAT team trapped in a Jakarta tenement building with a brutal army of bad guys, is a perfect example. After it played the Toronto Film Festival in the fall, it went on to gross more than $4 million in the U.S. after Sony Pictures Classics released it Stateside in March. Not only are the filmmakers plotting a sequel, “Berandal,” that continues the story outside the building war zone, but Screen Gems is gearing up to produce an English-language remake of the original.
“Through the process of working with Gareth on ‘The Raid’ — and Merantau prior to that — he has become a close friend as well as a business partner,” says XYZ partner Todd Brown, who founded Twitchfilm.com. “And when you have a good friend as talented as Gareth, with access to fabulous crews and a stable of immensely entertaining action stars, you take every opportunity to expand that relationship. We believe Indonesia is poised to become a major player in international genre film with a coming wave of talented directors and stars such as Joe Taslim and Yayan Ruhian having as much potential as ‘The Raid’'s Iko Uwais, and we're excited to be part of bringing them to the world.”
“The Night Comes for Us,” written by Evans and Timo Tjahjanto, who will also direct, is a neo-noir hitman thriller that will reunite “Raid” stars Taslim and Ruhian. Merantau is producing, with XYZ in an executive producer role. Written by Brown, “One Good Thing” will star Ruhian and Marko Zaror as a mob enforcer and a policeman who reluctantly try to protect a young girl caught between rival gangs warring with a clutch of dirty cops. “Macabre” filmmaker Kimo Stamboel (who, with Tjahjanto, makes up the Mo Brothers filmmaking duo) is set to direct.
The Indonesian-language films will shoot right after “Berandal,” which starts production in January. Also a sales company, XYZ will rep rights on the films while Merantau, also a distributor, will release the films in Indonesia.
XYZ is at Cannes selling ensemble thriller “The Invitation,” which could shoot as early as late summer with Karyn Kusama (“Girlfight”) directing, and it has the $15-million action thriller “The All-Rounder” aiming for a late-year shoot in India. Their period found-footage thriller “Frankenstein’s Army” is in post after a Prague shoot, and they are discussing a co-production with Participant Media on an elevated Colombian/Spanish horror flick called “Out of the Dark” that would shoot in Colombia.
Evans also is prepping to direct the real-life-based crime drama “Breaking the Bank,” which he'll shoot for XYZ in Europe, and the company has the micro-budget film “The Rambler” from “The Oregonian” writer-director Calvin Reeder in post-production.