Latin America

Economic crisis impacts all facets of biz

In Latin America, “The industry’s feeling the impact of the crisis in every segment, although in differing degrees,” says Steve Solot, prexy of the Latin America Training Center.

Fallout includes distributors buying finished films as opposed to pre-sales of product in production and steeper declines in DVD sell-through sales, he adds.

Film sales are also slowing.

“Prices for acquiring movies are still at the same level, but there are fewer buyers,” says Eduardo Costantini, prexy of Costa Films. “Companies with cash are waiting for prices to fall during the next few months.”

While B.O. is up slightly, piracy-ravaged DVD, which originally powered up prices in Brazil, is now imploding.

Costantini estimates homevid sales are down a year-on-year 40% across Latin America.

With the Brazilian real having tumbled 50% against the greenback in 12 months, distributors are attempting to renegotiate contracts or are just not buying at all, one says.

“The weaker real may well slow Brazil’s digital cinema rollout. As for installing digital 3-D equipment, the costs are now prohibitive, which will affect box office next year,” comments Fabio Lima, founder of digital cinema operator Rain Network and CEO of MovieMobz, a cinema-on-demand initiative.

In Argentina, DVD rental titles that used to mean 10,000 units shipped now mean 3,000, says vet distributor Bernardo Zupnik, at Argentina’s biggest indie, Distribution Co. With prices not yet falling for Argentina, expect slow trading at Berlin.

Movie attendance grew in Mexico in 2008, but large indies — Videocine-Televisa, Gussi — say they’ll look for sure-fire hits and be far more cautious before buying.

Lessons learned are “(be) careful about negotiation terms, careful about reading scripts thoroughly — being extremely picky,” says Mineko Mori, Paramount Pictures director, acquisitions and co-production, Latin America.

There is some silver lining in all the clouds. Latin America’s able to turn out edgy, original titles on scant budgets. One example: Berlin competition player “The Milk of Sorrow” (La teta asustada) from Peru’s Claudia Llosa, is a buzz title. And young filmmakers are still pushing the envelope. Pedro Aldrete’s “River of Gold” is an Apache-Mexican-Creole oater.

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