Average box office take per film falls 44%

Hollywood may be grumbling about a bum year, but try talking to producers south of the border.

Miguel Angel Davila, head of Mexico’s National Chamber of the Cinematographic Industry (Canacine), said Wednesday that 23 Mexican films were released in 2005 — five more than last year — but attendance had fallen from 7.9 million in 2004 to 5.9 million in 2005.

Davila, also CEO of Mexico’s No. 2 exhib, Cinemex, told reporters on the sidelines of a Canacine lunch that, given more films and less people, the average box office take per film had fallen 44%.

“It wasn’t for lack of publicity or a lower number of screens,” Davila said, adding that the number of prints per movie had remained constant at 131.

Top-grossing pic for the year was Luis Mandoki’s “Voces inocentes” (Innocent Voices) with more than $5.3 million, followed by “La mujer de mi hermano” (My Brother’s Wife), which is still in theaters and has earned $3.2 million so far.

Local production surged during 2005, with 53 films being shot, up from 36 last year.

Davila said Mexico’s overall box office would be a little better than flat, estimating the year would close at $550 million.

However, Davila noted a 6% ticket price hike during the year and 296 new screens had boosted B.O. Ticket sales at theaters already open had fallen an average of 8%, he said.

“Next year will be better; there is a lot of important product lined up,” Davila said. “But we have to (have) more ordered growth to the market to prevent cannibalizing screens.”

Mexico’s exhibs have grown from around 1,000 screens in 1995 to more than 3,300 today.

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