Tertzakian’s Production Gets Rave Reviews at Sundance

A scene from 'The Raid 2'

PARK CITY, Utah—When the 2011 martial arts action-thriller “The Raid: Redemption” hit the big screen it became an instant favorite, celebrated for its meticulous choreography and innovative approach to the genre. Avid movie-goers know that sequels are often disappointing, but producer Aram Tertzakian and his company XYZ Films have beat the odds with a sequel that critics are calling a “masterpiece.”

“Raid 2,” by Welsh director Gareth Evans, has delighted critics at the Sundance Film Festival. Robert C. Fowler of Indiwire.com says “Raid 2” outdoes its predecessor so completely, it leads him to conclude that “‘The Raid: Redemption’ was just a warm up.”

Critics believe that the movie’s rave reviews and word of mouth should earn a very large income at the box office. “The Raid 2” will arrive in US theaters on March 28.

XYZ Films
Orange County native Aram Tertzakian is one of four partners who run the production company XYZ Films.

“When XYZ Films set up shop in mid-2008, the economy was in free fall and traditional sources of independent film financing were scarce. So instead of fighting for crumbs in Hollywood, the producers looked overseas, working with local filmmakers to make genre movies on their home turf and rooting out undiscovered cinematic gems to rep for North American sales,” reported Variety Daily’s Todd Longwell in his profile of the film company.

Aram Tertzakian (center) with director Gareth Evans and others at the Sundance Film Festival

Aram Tertzakian, Nate Bolotin, Nick Spicer, and Todd Brown make the quartet that runs the film company. Spicer, Bolotin and Tertzakian met as students in UCLA’s MFA Producers program in the mid-2000s.

The company’s first big move was to cut a one-year exclusive deal with Time Inc. to develop articles from its archives as feature films. No projects came to fruition, but “that’s how people got to know us and we started conversations with executives and talent all over the industry,” Spicer told Variety.

But what really put the shingle into the game was the company’s film news website Twitchfilm.com, which has 40 contributors around the world who effectively double as talent scouts for the company’s production and sales arms.

“The talents they’re identifying could be the next generation of great filmmakers and the stories that pop up could be the next great international film or a possible remake,” Tertzakian told Variety.

The scenario has already played out with “The Raid” director Gareth Evans, who first came to XYZ’s attention when he asked Brown to look at his 2009 film “Merantau.”

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