SOURCE: Hollywood Studios International

February 08, 2011 20:24 ET

Hollywood Studios International Acquires Highest Grossing Venezuelan Film of All-Time "The Zero Hour"

Film's Amazing Backstory Creating Just as Much Buzz as Box Office Records; Filmmakers Ink Representation Deals With Artist International

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - February 8, 2011) - Continuing to bolster its slate with the the hottest films from around the world, Hollywood Studios International (OTCBB: HYWS) has acquired worldwide rights (outside of Venezuela), through its HSI Films division, to the record setting thriller "The Zero Hour" (Spanish title: "La Hora Cero"), which was co-executive produced by HSI Chairman & CEO, Steven Saxton.

The film has been a massive success in Venezuela, breaking records on its way to becoming the highest earning Venezuelan film in history and out grossing popular studio films such as INCEPTION, IRON MAN 2 and TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE. This amazing feat was accomplished with the purchase of only one billboard. The film has remained at the top of the box office in Venezuela for fifteen weeks, reaching #1, opening ahead of and out-grossing films such as TRON: LEGACY, THE TOWN, THE SOCIAL NETWORK, SAW, DUE DATE, WALL STREET 2 and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2.

As highlighted in the current issue of Weekly Variety Magazine, the filmmakers made "The Zero Hour" with great sacrifice and literally risked their lives to shoot it. Three crew members were kidnapped, the director was held up at gunpoint, and one of the actors was killed a week before shooting his part. The film brings to life the violence and chaos that currently characterizes Venezuela and it has already had a huge impact in the country. It focuses on a Sicario, one of Latin America's most feared criminal types, and explores the link between violence and social inequality -- in this case the gap in quality between private and public health care.

HSI Films is introducing "The Zero Hour" to eager foreign buyers for the first time at the upcoming European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin where the film will have its market debut this week.

Set and filmed in Caracas, "The Zero Hour" is the big-screen debut of Venezuelan-born and U.S.-raised director Diego Velasco, whose short films have won over 26 awards. Set during the real-life, 24-hour national health strike that paralyzed the city's public hospitals in 1996, it follows a fictional hitman (Sicario) who takes control of a private hospital to save his pregnant friend -- the victim of a shooting in which the culprit is revealed only later in the film.

Written and directed by Velasco, the film's lead is played by Ruben Zapata, aka Zapata 666, an underground hip-hop artist from Petare (Venezuela's largest slum) in his first acting role. Starring alongside Zapata are Venezuelan stars Amanda Key, Erich Wildpret, Laureano Oliveres and Marisa Roman as well as American actors Alejandro Furth ("Dreamgirls," "Fun with Dick and Jane"), and Steve Wilcox ("American Me").

Carolina Paiz wrote the screenplay with Velasco and produced the film with Rodolfo Cova. Sergio Aguero ("Y Tu Mama Tambien," "Quarantine") executive produced.

On their way to becoming one of the hottest filmaking duos in the business, Diego Velasco and Carolina Paiz have signed on with Hollywood Studio International's wholly owned management company, Artist International, for representation in all areas of their business and creative pursuits.

The filmmakers say they did not want to produce a socioeconomic critique. "We want viewers to digest and interpret the movie's ideas, not to put ideas in their heads," said Carolina Paiz.

HSI President, Eric Christenson, commented, "We've been on the lookout for great, distinctively original films with mass commercial appeal and 'The Zero Hour' has it all. The film brings a raw edginess that audiences are drawn to and appreciate, as evidenced with its record breaking success in Venezuela. I was blown away when I first screened the film. It's much more creative and edgy than your typical thriller, delivering a visually enthralling and unique experience for audiences that will translate well beyond the borders of Venezuela and Latin America. For us, the film exemplifies the pedigree of picture HSI is committed to bringing to the international marketplace. We're excited to see the reactions to the film in Berlin."

Less than a year old, Hollywood Studios International has already made a sizeable footprint in the independent landscape having executive produced, as its debut film project, the breakout hit "The Kids Are All Right," one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year and winner the 2011 Golden Globe® for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy as well as Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (Annette Bening). Recently nominated for four Oscars®, including Best Picture, the film was produced in association with Artist International (an HSI company) and executive produced by Steven Saxton.

ABOUT ARTIST INTERNATIONAL

Artist International is a management/production company that partners with artists to create great content. The company provides professional representation to actors, writers, directors, athletes, music performers, artists, and other entertainment properties. Its four divisions -- music, literary, sports, and talent -- operate with the singular focus of understanding the goals, passions and talents of its clients and maximizing their potential. As a wholly owned subsidiary of Hollywood Studios International, Artist International is positioned to collaborate with artists to bring new content to life, whether by internal means or external partnerships.

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ABOUT HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS INTERNATIONAL

Hollywood Studios International (OTCBB: HYWS) is a media holding company focused on the intelligent deployment of capital in the entertainment industry. The company has developed a portfolio of fee-based businesses ranging from talent representation to international distribution. Following the current round of funding, the Company intends to file with the SEC to be a fully reporting publicly traded company.

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