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Argentina stiffens quotas

Regulations enacted to protect local films

Hollywood pics might have a slightly tougher time in Argentina now that the country’s Incaa Film Institute has beefed up exhibition regulations to protect local films.

Exhibitors, the biggest of which are foreign multiplexes, must screen local films for at least two weeks. Fines are stiffer for noncompliance, including the closure of plexes for up to 60 days.

“We want to increase the domestic exhibition of Argentine cinema,” Incaa prexy Liliana Mazure told Variety.

Hollywood dominates B.O. with 80%-85% of admissions, helped by big releases of 120-150 prints in a market of fewer than 1,000 screens. It is a strategy that local producers say squeezes out their pics, which run with fewer than 35 prints.

Incaa is providing promotional funding to help exhibs draw more spectators to domestic fare, and organizing a release calendar so homegrown films don’t flood the market any given week.

The changes come after the local industry boosted its share of total ticket sales to 11.5% in 2008 from 9% in 2007, largely thanks to the runaway success of the romantic comedy “A Boyfriend for My Wife.”

It came second overall with 1.45 admissions, trailing “Kung Fu Panda” with 1.55 million, in a year that ended flat with a total 34.5 million admissions.

Not all are certain about the effectiveness of the regulatory changes. 

“People do or don’t go to the movies because of decisions that don’t have anything to do with regulations,” said Pablo Bossi, head of leading producer Pampa Films. “Even so, regulations need to exist … to protect the national industry. You can’t have absolute liberty.”

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