Exec opened Mexico up to major concerts

MEXICO CITY — CIE topper Alejandro Soberon was bitten by the showbiz bug early in life. While still a teenager, he partnered with his father to form Frontera Films, which turned out 35 low-budget pics over a 10-year period.

Then, in 1987, the 27-year old producer was screening a movie in the border city of Tijuana on the same night as a concert by Mexican singer Juan Gabriel. Soberon admits he shrugged off the concerns of the local theater operator — until he saw how the evening’s B.O. receipts were crippled. “That piqued my interest.”

The experience prompted him to hook up with two local Mexican promoters, then strike out on his own.

Programming Pavarotti

Back in 1990, the Mexican government forbid big concerts, limiting large public gatherings to soccer matches and bullfights. Soberon’s initial foray was with Luciano Pavarotti in October of that year, but his first major international show was a January 1991 INXS concert, which put him on the map.

“The great success of Soberon with (promotion company) Ocesa was to show the government that you could do a big concert safely,” says Alejandro Garza, a former competitor whose RAC Producciones was acquired by CIE in 1987 and who now directs CIE’s entertainment division.

Blazing trails

Opening Mexico to major concerts is one of Soberon’s most important achievements.

“You have to be older than 25 years old to appreciate the lack,” observes Soberon, whose personal favorites include Paul McCartney in 1993 and Billy Joel in 199.

Today, at 40, Soberon is more likely to be dealing with bankers and investors than artists and roadies, but his loyal cadre of longtime execs maintain that he hasn’t lost his passion for music and entertainment — or his entrepreneurial spirit.

Turning fellow entrepreneurs into team players, “is a big challenge,” says chief operating officer Rodrigo Gonzalez, who has been with Soberon since the beginning. “The people, plus the vision and leadership of Alejandro … are the basis for the company’s success.”

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