Mexico to get Movie City

MEXICO CITY — Latin American Pay Television Services is launching the region’s first premium movie channel, Movie City, in Mexico on June 1.

The rollout of the 24-hour all-movie channel to other Latino markets should be complete by July 1, said LAPTS chief executive officer Genaro Rionda. Movie City will be sold with sister channels Cinecanal and the recently launched Cinecanal2. The network package of five beams will match that of rival HBOle.

Declining to provide specifics, Rionda said, “The package will be competitively priced.”

Movie City will feature films from its four principal backers — Universal, Paramount, MGM and Fox — as well as independent fare from the United States and around the world.

In a recent interview with Daily Variety, Rionda acknowledged that until a few months ago, HBO was scooping up indie pics while Cinecanal sat back. Last year, Cinecanal also lost the opportunity to take on Disney.

And though Cinecanal reached operational break-even last year on revenue of $35 million, HBOle has better recognition and is stronger in markets where ratings are offered.

In its first month, roughly 60% of the new channel’s films will be from the U.S. However, Movie City will make a concerted effort to acquire Spanish-language, especially Latam, product, Rionda said. It will air “Oedipus the Mayor” (Edipo Alcalde), a Mexico-Colombia co-production, and have an exclusive on Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s “Kika” and “The Flower of My Secret” (La Flor de Mi Secreto).

All foreign pics will be broadcast in their original language with Spanish subtitles, except for children’s programming, which will be dubbed.

Rionda said he hopes the premium channel will help provide an impetus for Latam cablers to invest in decoder technology so they can offer premium services, instead of just one basic package.

For now, Mexico is the only cable market where tiered services are common.

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