Stunt professional and filmmaker Ben Bray’s feature debut, El Chicano, is moving back from its initial planned November release now with a date set instead for March 22, 2019. The new release date comes on the heels of Thursday’s Deadline exclusive reporting the film’s North American distribution rights acquisition by Open Road’s distribution upstart, Briarcliff Entertainment (Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9).
Penned by Bray and producer Joe Carnahan, El Chicano inaugurates a Latino superhero narrative that stars Raul Castillo in the dual roles of twin brothers Diego and Pedro (dually played by Raúl Castillo). Living seperate lives in their adult years, Diego’s career as a celebrated LAPD detective takes a tragic turn when he learns of Pedro’s death in wake of a life of crime, offsetting an introspective journey into that will unearth The Ghetto Grim Reaper, a mythological vigilante from his childhood in the vein of Batman and Black Panther.
Rounding out the cast are George Lopez, Aimee Garcia, Emilio Rivera, Kate del Castillo, Mr. Criminal, Noel G. Marco Rodriguez, Marlene Forte, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Sal Lopez, David Castañeda and Armida Lopez. Also producing are Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Carnahan’s fellow WarParty cohort Frank Grillo, marking the first wide release for the company since launching equity partner WarChest in Calgary last Fall; WarChest’s own Art Robinson, Gianni Altobelli, Blair Ward and Ron Schmeichel executive produce.
Deadline quotes Carnahan who is expressed forward in his statements about the process of events that led to pairing up with Bray for El Chicano, citing the stagnation behind Bad Boys 3: “I was frustrated with Bad Boys 3, and Ben had been talking about this for a decade,” Carnahan said. “He would tell me that 25% of movie tickets are purchased by Latinos, and so where are their big heroes? We wrote this on spec, and these white oil and gas guys from Canada gave us the money to make it at an under $8 million budget. It got an amazing response at the L.A. Film Festival. We believe in this, and that it can find a big audience and launch a franchise.”
“Just the fact that we’re making this announcement during Hispanic Heritage Month, which celebrates the vital and important presence of Hispanics and Latinos in North America, is wonderful to me.” says Bray. “The time is now for a film like El Chicano. A Latino superhero franchise is long overdue, but to have the forces of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo, Tom Ortenberg and Lorenzo di Bonaventura in the mix just makes it even sweeter and well worth the wait!”
Briarcliff CEO Ortenberg, who has worked with Carnahan and Grillo on multiple titles added: “Joe Carnahan and Frank Grillo are truly forces of nature. Their passion and commitment to the projects on which they embark is unmatched and I am thrilled to reunite with them and Ben Hernandez Bray on this groundbreaking film.”
“This marks our fourth film together and that’s no accident.” says Carnahan. “Tom is someone who has proven his bona fides time and again and executed at the highest levels in this business, winning Best Picture Oscars at two different studios. The thought of someone like Tom; a true industry mogul, shepherding El Chicano out into the world, with his taste, track record and a nearly 20-year friendship between us, was just too good to pass up.”
WarParty is also in tow with Carnahan’s Boss Level starring Grillo with Mel Gibson, Michelle Yeoh and Selina Lo, and the current production of Joe Lynch’s Fred Cavaye crime thriller redux, Point Blank, also starring Grillo with Anthony Mackie and Marcia Gay Harden. Penned by Adam G. Simon, Carnahan will next retcon Gareth Evans’s 2011 smash hit, The Raid early next year.
UTA Independent Film Group brokered the deal. Bray is repped by UTA, Circle of Confusion and Paul Hastings.