Diego Luna, who grabbed worldwide attention opposite Gael Garcia Bernal in Y Tu Mama Tambien, has landed the lead role in Havana Nights, the second instalment in a planned Dirty Dancing franchise which is being co-produced by Miramax Films and Artisan Pictures.
Guy Ferland, whose credits include recent made-for-Showtime feature Bang Bang You're Dead, is directing the film, while Lawrence Bender is to produce. Production is scheduled to begin in Feb 2003 with a release date set for Nov 21, 2003.
The film is being co-financed by Artisan and Miramax, with Artisan distributing the film domestically and Miramax sister company Buena Vista International distributing internationally.The unusual co-venture was negotiated by Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein and Artisan Entertainment CEO Amir Malin.
Inspired by the original Dirty Dancing, but set in 1959 Cuba, Havana Nights follows the story of a 17 year-old girl who moves with her family to revolution-era Cuba. While in Cuba, she defies her family's wishes when she falls for a young Cuban dancer, who helps her discover both herself and a world beyond her sheltered existence.
Dirty Dancing is one of the most lucrative titles in Artisan's library. Originally released by Vestron, the film won an Academy Award for best song ('I've Had The Time Of My Life') and its soundtrack sold over 22 million units. Artisan says that it has sold an average of 157,000 VHS and DVD units of the film per month so far this year.
Luna was represented by UTA in his negotiations, Barry Littman, vice president of business and legal affairs, negotiated on behalf of Miramax.
Rachel Cohen, senior vice president of Artisan Pictures, reporting to CEO Bob Cooper will oversee the project's development for Artisan, while Jennifer Berman will oversee the project for Miramax, reporting to co-presidents Meryl Poster and Bob Osher.
Luna, who has been acting since he was a boy, most recently starred as Frida Kahlo's first lover in Julie Taymor's Frida. Aside from Y Tu Mama Tambien, his Mexican credits include El Cometa (1998) and Todo El Pudor (1999). He also starred in Vampires: Los Muertos opposite Jon Bon Jovi and has a role in Kevin Costner's upcoming Open Range with Costner, Robert Duvall and Annette Bening.