New pic rollout plan in Mexico

Garcia Bernal and Luna's VOD venture dandy

MEXICO CITY Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna’s producer-distributor Canana is pioneering a new distribution model in Mexico.

On July 24, the company opened “Year of the Nail” in theaters and then released it on demand via Cablevision just three days later.

The deal unites one of the country’s hippest shingles with Mexican media giant Televisa, which owns the cabler.

Cablevision’s 125,000 subscribers with VOD can pay 49 pesos ($3.70) — about the price of a regular movie ticket — to watch the film in the comfort of their living rooms.

Helmed by Alfonso Cuaron’s son Jonas, the arthouse title “Year of the Nail” is the first pic available from Canana On Demand.

Plans include re-releasing previous Canana-produced or distributed pics, such as “Cochochi” and “Gomorra,” as well as documentaries “JC Chavez,” “Mi vida dentro,” “Joy Division” and “Cocalero.” Eventually a special Ambulante On Demand offering will be introduced, featuring docs running in Garcia and Luna’s Ambulante Documentary Film Festival.

Behind-the-scenes shorts and interviews will also be offered, free of charge.

Despite the recent growth in the number of films produced in Mexico since the introduction of state-backed financial incentives in 2006, indie movies are often kicked out of theaters after a one or two-week run.

Canana prexy Pablo Cruz does not expect to collect much in the way of DVD revenues, either.

“We think DVD is going to disappear rapidly here,” he said. “Consumers are becoming more sophisticated … We need to find alternative avenues for revenue.”

Last May, Mexico’s top cablers banded together to bow a low-cost (about $37 a month) triple-play scheme offering voice, video and Internet ahead of a similar offer from telco giant Telmex.

Cruz believes Canana On Demand is a “win-win” for Cablevision and Canana that will expand, drawing in larger auds and generating revenue without the struggle for theater space.

He added that the deal would also provide the company with a better cut of the take, saying that it receives only about 35% of box office receipts as distributor.

The plan is risky as most exhibitors are refusing to screen the pic, with the exception of Lumiere Cinemas and other arthouse theaters.

Cruz explained that they are working with Lumiere and other key arthouses but acknowledged that major exhibs see Canana’s strategy as a challenge.

“The theaters are scared,” he says.

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