Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network to Begin Streaming on the Roku Channel

Robert Rodriguez is livin’ a new stream

The 53-year-old Mexican American filmmaker’s El Rey Network, which is making a rare transition from cable television to free streaming, has set a deal for crucial real estate on the Roku Channel.

Robert Rodriguez

Starting tomorrow, the network founded by Rodriguez will start streaming as a 24-7 linear offering on the Roku Channel, one of more than 190 on the free outlet.

Launched in 2013 as a result of the agreement reached by Comcast and NBCUniversal with regulators yielding new commitments to diverse programming options, El Rey targeted young, English-speaking Latino viewers. It wound down its nearly decade-long run on traditional pay-TV at the end of 2020, having peaked at 40 million households. While other channels have gone dark on cable and returned as digital properties, El Rey is one of the first to attempt such a shift during the streaming era.

The Roku Channel, which has 40,000 on-demand film and television titles in addition to its linear offerings, reaches households with 70 million people. Since launching in 2017, it has become a leading home for free, ad-supported streaming, ranking as the No. 6 overall streaming site in a June Nielsen gauge of household reach. In the spring, Roku Channel launched an original programming banner, whose initial slate includes Quibi titles acquired last January.

With recent data suggesting that 60% of Hispanic viewers regularly stream free, ad-supported services, several other programmers have jumped into the fray. Pluto and Tubi have launched Spanish-language efforts and Univision (initially an investor in the El Rey network) just launched PrendeTV. But El Rey’s backers see little overlap in their streaming effort, which trades as the network always has on Rodriguez’s personal tastes and eclectic resume as the director of an eclectic roster of films from Spy Kids to From Dusk Till Dawn to Sin City.

El Rey does not plan an initial investment in original programming, with its 150 hours of originals almost entirely consisting of previously produced fare. The Roku Channel will be the exclusive first AVOD destination for Rodriguez’s feature film Red 11, which had a festival circuit run. Rebel Without a Crew: The Robert Rodriguez Film School will be another exclusive, starting in the first quarter of 2022. Other shows from El Rey include The Director’s Chair, featuring conversations between Rodriguez and guests like John Carpenter and Quentin Tarantino; and Cutting Crew, which is centered at a barbershop outside of Philadelphia; and El Rey Nation, a geek-fandom panel series.

Roku VP of Programming Rob Holmes told Deadline in an interview that the arrangement would give El Rey access to “millions of engaged streamers.” In the streaming world, he added, networks need to do four things well: deliver compelling programming; create a compelling user experience; acquire and retain users; and then monetize those users. Most programmers are comfortable with only the first of the four, he said.

“You’ve seen huge investments from big folks like Disney,” he said, “but there are many people who aren’t prepared to do those other three things. Recognizing that, they can be very successful at doing that first thing, which they’ve always been good at. …. They can rely on the Roku Channel to bring these other three capabilities and do it at a really big scale.”

Cinedigm, a specialist in streaming, joined forces with El Rey to take its network into the digital realm and refine the user experience. Unlike many other cable networks during the 2010s, El Rey never built an authenticated TV Everywhere app.

John Fogelman, CEO of FactoryMade Ventures and a co-founder of El Rey, told Deadline Rodriguez had been envisioning a leap to streaming since at least 2020. The environment “feels much more right” than cable, he said, but “it just wasn’t available when we started.”

Fogelman said El Rey will aim to use Roku as the foundation for other streaming deals with other providers. The economics of digital distribution are different from traditional pay-TV, where programmers get a dual revenue stream via carriage fees and advertising. Streaming channels take part in a revenue share from both distribution and ads, but the margins are slimmer and the tech platforms control most of the viewership data. Along with the technical challenges involved in taking a channel from cable to streaming, Fogelman said the whole experience was tantamount to “ripping off the Band-Aid.”

Based on initial feedback through various channels, he said, viewers are grateful to have a chance to keep tuning in. “That beat-up crown that Robert designed” in the El Rey logo, Fogelman said, “really means a lot to a lot of people.”

Ashley Hovey, Director of AVOD, The Roku Channel, said El Rey fits the Roku business model and the realities of streaming. Nine out of 10 U.S. Hispanic households are now streaming in the U.S., she said, making it “clear there is a growing demand for engaging, high quality Latinx entertainment. El Rey is changing the programming world in an exciting way that speaks to the future of audience discovery and engagement.”

Jesse Garcia to Star in Michael Bay’s Action Feature “Ambulance”

Jesse Garcia is calling 9-1-1…

The 39-year-old Spanish and Mexican American actor has joined the cast of Michael Bay’s Endeavor ContentUniversal Pictures action feature Ambulance

Jesse Garcia

Garcia joins a growing cast that includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza Gonzalez, Garret DillahuntA Martinez, Keir O’DonnellMoses Ingram, rapper Wale FolarinCedric SandersJackson WhiteColin Woodell and Olivia Stambouliah.

Ambulance is based on the original Danish film Ambulancen and is in the spirit of such 1990s action films as Speed and Bad BoysChris Fedak wrote the original screenplay.

Garcia recently wrapped the new season of Narcos and was attached to the Marvel/Hulu series Ghost Rider before it was stalled. Garcia plays Ranger Freddie Gonzalez in the El Rey Network’s From Dusk Till DawnHe is also known for the award-winning film Quinceañera, written and directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, executive produced by Todd Haynes. The film won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival in the Dramatic Independent Feature Competition. Garcia won Best Actor at the 2007 ALMA Awards for his role as Carlos, a troubled gay teenager.  In 2012, Garcia played a supporting role in The Avengers, in addition to roles in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and Manifest Destiny. His TV work also includes Edward James Olmos’ movie Walkout for HBO, recurring roles on Sons of Anarchy, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and The Shield

Jesse Garcia to Star on Netflix’s “Narcos: Mexico”

Jesse Garcia is joining the drug war…

The 36-year-old Latino actor has landed a series regular role opposite Diego Luna and Michael Peña on Narcos: Mexico, the upcoming fourth season of Netflix’s drug trafficking drama series.

Jesse Garcia 

After three seasons in Colombia in the pre- and post-Pablo Escobar world, Narcos has moved to Mexico, where it explores the origins of the modern drug war by going back to its roots, beginning at a time when the Mexican trafficking world was a loose and disorganized confederation of independent growers and dealers.

The new installment follows the rise of the Guadalajara Cartel in the 1980s as Félix Gallardo (Luna) takes the helm, unifying traffickers in order to build an empire. When DEA agent Kiki Camarena (Peña) moves his wife and young son from California to Guadalajara to take on a new post, he quickly learns that his assignment will be more challenging than he ever could have imagined. As Kiki garners intelligence on Félix and becomes more entangled in his mission, a tragic chain of events unfold, affecting the drug trade and the war against it for years to come.

Garciawill reportedly portray a DEA agent who volunteers for a dangerous assignment in Mexico.

Garcia played Ranger Freddie Gonzalez in the El Rey Network’s From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series and stars in the upcoming feature film Collision. Best known for his award-winning film Quinceañera, Garcia’s television work also includes Edward James OlmosHBO movie Walkout and recurring roles on Sons of Anarchy, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and The Shield.

Narcos: Mexico premieres November 16 on Netflix.

Rodriguez to Direct “Escape From New York” Remake

Robert Rodriguez is preparing for his big Escape

The 48-year-old Mexican American filmmaker will direct Escape From New York, the remake of John Carpenter’s iconic 1981 film for 20th Century Fox.

Robert Rodriguez

The studio won a bidding battle for rights to the reboot in early 2015, with Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman’s The Picture Company set to produce.

Neil Cross is penning the script.

The original was released by Avco Embassy, and the rights were owned by Studiocanal. Carpenter will be an executive producer and have a big say in the tone of the project. Fox’s Mike Ireland, who brought in the movie, will oversee for the studio. The hope is to reinvent the property with an eye toward launching a Planet Of The Apes-like franchise.

The deal cements the relationship with Rodriguez and Fox; the director just helmed the studio’s Alita: Battle Angel, the film based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga graphic novels that was written by James Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis. Set in a 26th century dystopian future, the film follows the story of an amnesiac cyborg who, after being rescued from a scrap heap by a doctor, becomes a bounty hunter tracking down criminals. Rosa Salazar and Christoph Waltz star in the film, which has a July 20, 2018 release date mapped out.

The cynical original Escape From New York, hatched by Carpenter after the Watergate scandal, was set in a futuristic Gotham circa 1997. Kurt Russell played Snake Plissken, an eyepatch-sporting tough guy who is conscripted to rescue the President of the United States after Air Force One — en route to a summit that could head off World War III — goes missing after it crashes in New York, which has been relegated to a maximum security prison. Plissken, a former special forces operative convicted of trying to rob the Federal Reserve, is given 22 hours to liberate the president and a tape he carries which holds the key to peace. If he fails, he’s wired to explode.

Rodriguez and Carpenter have collaborated before. Rodriguez’s El Rey Network last fall announced the launch of The People’s Network Showcase, a series of specials featuring short films from emerging indie filmmakers. Carpenter hosted the premiere episode, The People’s Network Showcase: Horror Edition.

Trejo to Host El Rey Network’s Original Unscripted Series “Man at Arms”

Danny Trejo is armed and ready for a new project…

The 72-year-old Mexican American actor will host El Rey Network’s upcoming original unscripted series Man at Arms.

Danny Trejo

Robert Rodriguez’s network is bringing the digital series to television in a co-production deal with Man at Arms’ creator DEFY Media.

In each episode, a team of expert craftsmen skillfully reproduce famed weapons and armor from scratch, using both the technology that would have been available at the time such weapons and armor were originally created, as well as state-of-the-art technologies.

Trejo, who starred in both From Dusk Till Dawn the film and El Rey’s series, will introduce each episode, preside over the expert roundtable of builders, historians and martial artists, and participate in the weapons testing phase to see how much destruction they can cause. The eight-part series is slated to premiere on the network in early June.

Trejo is most recognized as the character Machete, originally developed by Rodriguez for the Spy Kids series of movies that was later expanded into his own series of films.

Trejo’s other television work includes recurring roles on Sons of Anarchy and King of the Hill. He recently finished shooting Dead Again in Tombstone, the sequel to Dead in Tombstone, for Universal Pictures.

González to Star in Robert Rodriguez’s “Alita: Battle Angel” for Fox

Eiza González is ready for Battle

The 26-year-old Mexican actress/singer has been cast in Fox’s Alita: Battle Angel, the Robert Rodriguez-directed film based on Yukito Kishiro’s popular manga graphic novels.

Eiza González

Set in a 26th-century dystopian future, the film follows the story of an amnesiac cyborg who, after being rescued from a scrap heap by a doctor, becomes a bounty hunter tracking down criminals.

James Cameron will co-write the script with Laeta Kalogridis.

Cameron will also produce alongside Jon Landau as the film is set for release in July 2018.

This marks the second collaboration between Rodriguez and González, who co-stars in his El Rey Network series From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series.

She can next be seen in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, which Sony will release March 2017.

Lucha Underground’s Rey Mysterio Signs First Look Deal with El Rey Network

Rey Mysterio could become the king of television…

The 41-year-old Mexican-American professional wrestler and Lucha Underground star, whose real name is Oscar Gutierrez, has signed a one-year first look deal with Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network, the network behind the series.

Rey Mysterio

Under the pact, Mysterio will develop, produce and consult on creative projects and series, both scripted and unscripted.

Mysterio joined Lucha Underground during the second season and will appear in the upcoming third season premiering September 7 on El Rey Network.

“Rey Mysterio’s incredible talent extends far beyond the ring,” said El Rey Network president and general manager Daniel Tibbets. “He is creative and collaborative and has a keen eye for great entertainment. Rey embodies the El Rey Network brand and we are thrilled to expand our relationship with him.”

Mysterio  is a 25-year ring veteran and decorated champion in multiple North American wrestling organizations, His lightning-fast offense is credited with bringing lucha libre to mainstream American audiences.

Mysterio was trained by the Mexican professional wrestler, Rey Misterio Sr. who is also his uncle and one of the top stars and promoters of the sport through the 1970’s and 80’s.

A three-time world champion, having held the World Heavyweight Championship twice and the WWE Championship once, Mysterio made his professional debut at the age of 14.

He is also an AAA Hall of Famer and captured the Lucha Libre World Cup in May 2015, leading his trio’s tag team to victory.

Mysterio was also Lucha Underground Trios Champion in 2016.

Rodriguez Debuts “Our America” Short at Democratic National Convention

Robert Rodriguez is shining a spotlight on Our America.

The 48-year-old Mexican American director and El Rey Network founder took the stage last night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to debut his newest work — the short Our America.

Robert Rodriguez

The video, which clocks in at 1 minute and 54 seconds, stresses the nation’s multicultural roots and is part of the push to get out the vote among Latinos — his target audience on El Rey.

“I made this film you just saw because there has never been a more important time for building understanding among people, by telling our stories,” Rodriguez said onstage after the video. “I grew up in San Antonio Texas, a family of 10 kids, and it was there that I realized that storytelling amplifies our voice. To my fellow Latinos, that voice is our vote.”

He concluded, “It’s time to elect Hillary Clinton the next president of Our America.”

Compte to Star on El Rey Network’s “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series”

It’s a new Dawn for Maurice Compte

The Cuban American actor has joined the cast of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series for Season 3.

Maurice Compte

Compte will portray Brassa, a mysterious, Rasputin-like figure who takes on the outlaw Gecko brothers on Robert Rodriguez’s television take on his cult 1996 film for his El Rey Network.

Season 3 will continue the Gecko brothers’ saga as they fight their way through the world of culebras, the vampire-snake hybrids that control hidden empires in Texas and Mexico.

Seth (D.J. Cotrona) and Richie (Zane Holtz) made a run for the border two years ago and ran headlong into a bar full of bloodsuckers and bandits, facing off with the vampire goddess Santánico (Eiza Gonzalez). The Geckos joined her cause, and they settled an old score. It won them a place in the culebra world. Now that world is about to explode, and new enemies are gathering – dark forces hell bent on destruction and domination. It’s up to the Geckos to stop them, but they can’t do it alone.

Compte appeared in the Netflix series Narcos and guested this year on Hawaii Five-O and Rush Hour.

He recently wrapped roles in the features Going Under and The True Memoirs of an International Assassin.

de la Reguera to Star in El Rey Network’s “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series”

It’s a new Dawn for Ana de la Reguera

The 39-year-old Mexican actress has joined the cast of El Rey Network’s From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series.

Ana de la Reguera

de la Reguera will be joined by Chilean martial artist, actor and stuntman Marko Zaror for the show’s upcoming third season.

A reimagining of Robert Rodriguez’s 1996 movie, which Miramax released at the time, the television show expands on the supernatural crime saga revolving around brothers Seth and Richie Gecko.

Season 3 will continue their saga as they fight the culebra underworld.

de la Reguera will recur as Lord Venganza Verdugo, one of the seven remaining culebra lords whose ancient roots and personal history put them at the center of an epic clash between good and evil.

Zaror is Zolo, an Aztec warrior trained in hell.

Additionally, Emily Rios will reprise her Season 2 role as Ximena, the no-nonsense lieutenant of Lord Venganza.

They join the returning ensemble cast that includes D.J. Cotrona, Zane Holtz, Eiza González, Jesse Garcia, Madison Davenport, Brandon Soo Hoo and Jake Busey.

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series is produced by Miramax in association with Rodriguez International Pictures, FactoryMade Ventures and Sugarcane Entertainment.