Sony’s spreading out

Opens local-lingo prod'n office in Mexico

Sony has opened its sixth local-language film production office worldwide, naming Gabriel Ripstein director of creative affairs for Columbia Pictures Producciones Mexico.The Mexico City office is another sign of growing Hollywood interest in Mexican film production, which has generated such recent notable exports as “Amores perros,” “Y tu mama tambien” and Sony’s own 2002 release, the Oscar-nommed “El Crimen del padre Amaro.”

“Padre Amaro” grossed $26 million worldwide. Sony also recently released “Sin ton ni Sonia.”

The new operation is another marker of Sony’s worldwide filmmaking ambitions, with local-language production offices already in Hong Kong, China, Spain, the U.K. and Brazil. Columbia Pictures Film Prods. Asia helped produce “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

Mulling Mexico

“We’ve been considering opening a production office in Mexico for quite some time,” said Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman-CEO John Calley.

“Our success with ‘El Crimen del padre Amaro’ sped up our timeline considerably. Being on the ground in Mexico City will give us greater access to the nation’s rich talent pool and its growing market,” he said.

Ripstein formerly headed Mexican production company Altavista and its distrib Nuvision, where he evaluated projects and designed the commercial and financial structures needed to get them made.

He will report to Gareth Wigan, vice chairman of Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, and Paul Smith, exec VP of worldwide marketing and distribution for the group.

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