Local titles fuel boom in Mexico

'Father Amaro,' 'Spiderman' help push B.O. up

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s box office continues to boom, although dollar grosses are down due to local currency depreciation.

Local films are helping to support the current growth cycle — but hungry filmgoers in the provinces are fueling the biggest increases.

January-August ticket sales in Mexico were up 11% to 107 million compared with the first eight months of last year. Box office also jumped 15% to 3.2 billion pesos ($325 million.)

“Ice Age” and “Spiderman” together took around $50 million in all chains across Mexico, giving the national box office a huge boost.

Meanwhile, Carlos Carrera’s controversial “El Crimen del Padre Amaro” (The Crime of Father Amaro), launched on Aug. 16 on 365 screens, a record for a local pic.

The Gael Garcia vehicle took in more than $5 million in its opening week, smashing the previous record for a Mexican film of $2 million, held by “Y tu mama tambien” (And Your Mother Too), which also starred Garcia. A publicity-generating Catholic church boycott such as occurred for “Father Amaro” is unlikely to happen for helmer Francisco del Toro’s “Punto y Aparte” (Critical Point), a pro-Catholic abortion drama produced by Armageddon Films and due to be released Oct. 4.

The good response to strong local films combined with additional screens has made it possible for certain local pics to go out with many more prints compared with just a few years ago.

Upcoming local releases include “Amor te duele” (Love Hurts), from Altavista Films (“Amores Perros), dealing with the Mexican taboo of inter-racial romance. It will bow Oct. 25 with 300 copies. At the end of December, Fox will release Titan Films’ “La Hija del canibal” (The Cannibal’s Daughter), starring Cecilia Roth of “All About My Mother,” also with around 300 copies.

Exhibs are expecting fall releases from the studios including Mel Gibson-starrer “Signs” and Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings sequels to maintain the rhythm, allowing Mexico to finish the year on a high.

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