Mexico

With more and more product available, Mexico’s indie distribs are working to release the right film at the right time to stay afloat.

Mexico’s biggest indie pic players, Gussi-Artecinema and Videocine, as well as their much smaller rivals, are swimming in previously purchased films.

“Since the last AFM, a lot of product has been available and we have been buying a lot that we will be putting out in 2007 and even into 2008,” says Mineko Mori, head of acquisitions at Videocine. “At AFM this year, we are going to be concentrating on higher-quality product, but we won’t be buying in volume.”

Indies have been losing market share as the majors have become more aggressive with the number of prints they release. Several years ago, a big release entailed 300 to 400 prints, but Hollywood tentpoles now are being put out on more than 700 prints.

“It’s all about finding the right product to compete with the majors,” adds Mori, who has scored several such hits this year, most recently with “Hoodwinked” and “The Illusionist.”

While piracy may be increasingly rampant and cutting into DVD sales, the homevideo business is still holding up in Mexico. That’s mostly due to the strength of big titles and animated movies — almost always major hits in Mexico — that get snapped up for the family collection.

The home entertainment market is still promising enough for indie distrib Film House to have launched a video arm earlier this year, releasing 10-15 art films per month. Already in possession of Jim Jarmusch and Ingmar Bergman pic catalogs, Film House head Daniel Birman says he will be looking for more catalogs at AFM by well-known directors who “are not too artsy.”

Birman says the move to add video distribution was needed to shore up tough business on the theatrical side and make the minimum guarantees bearable. “The DVD market is working out much better than theatrical,” he says. “Way too many movies are getting released every single week. All the distributors are poring over the calendar, looking for gaps, but there are still many weeks when three or four art movies come out.”

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