Maya acquires 'Sleep Dealer' rights

Sundance award-winner from Alex Rivera

NEW YORK -- Maya Entertainment is taking a big step into the mainstream, with the Hispanic-oriented producer and distributor acquiring all U.S. rights to Alex Rivera's Sundance award-winner "Sleep Dealer."

The Spanish-language "Dealer," which won the dramatic screenwriting prize in January in Park City, is a dystopian tale revolving around themes of immigration and digital culture, using sci-fi conventions to tell a political tale. The movie drew buzz in Sundance for its ambition, though some buyers perceived it as a tricky commercial sell.

David Riker, who is penning the screenplay for the upcoming Emily Blunt starrer "The Girl," wrote the script.

Maya will release the film theatrically as well as on is nascent home video label and also will peddle television rights.

"We think the film has relevance with the sci-fi audience, we think the art house crowd will take to it and we think it will appeal to a mass Latino audience," Maya head of acquisitions Jose Martinez said.

A grass-roots campaign also is planned for the coming months, with Rivera embarking on a college tour to spread word-of-mouth. "This is not a film that sits easily in any marketing box," Rivera said. "But we believe the film's uniqueness is marketable."

Maya is seeking to broaden its distribution reach under former Palm Pictures executive Martinez. This month it will release the Latina coming-of-age dramedy "How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer."

Maya also has a production label as well as a sister exhibition unit, with theaters already built or under construction in such California cities as Bakersfield, Fresno and Salinas, as well as in Santa Fe, N.M.

Anthony Bregman produced "Dealer" through his Likely Story shingle. Martinez and Tonantzin Esparza negotiated the deal for Maya; Andrew Hurwitz and UTA's Bec Smith repped the filmmakers.

Gregg Goldstein contributed to this report.