Latin America: Alternative content helps fuel growth

Cannes 3D Report: Latin America

Latin America has jumped into 3D with gusto — screen buildup has been rising at an average annual pace of 15%.

While the region’s total screen count remained static at 10,006 last year, conversions to digital 3D more than doubled to 1,070 screens versus 362 in 2009, per MPAA figures.

This has led to fewer bottlenecks as the growing proliferation of 3D screens has allowed exhibs to keep up with the 3D pic invasion from Hollywood.

Rather daunted by steeper production costs, few Latino filmmakers have ventured into live-action 3D although some have made 3D toons. However, the fact that 3D pics fetch higher ticket prices and are difficult to bootleg has spurred some filmmakers on.

Chile’s Jorge Olguin is prepping “The Elementals,” the first 3D live action pic from Chile. A handful of live-action 3D pics are in production in Brazil, including Marcos Garcia’s $4.4 million debut pic “O Golpe” (The Fraud) and Cris D’Amato’s $4 million action pic “Who’s Afraid of Ghosts?”

Mexico and Brazil, in particular, have been exploiting their 3D screens on slow days with non-cinema offerings from the Metropolitan Opera and the Bolshoi Ballet. Mexican 3D screens have shown both opera and sports events, including the FIFA World Cup and WWE, among others.

One nagging issue persists: While U.S. exhibs like Cinemark are able to finance their purchase of digital projectors through virtual print fees, local circuit owners cannot. To get into the game, they spend their own capital to convert to digital. “This gives local cinema owners less available capital to invest in new construction and gives multinationals an edge,” says Fabio Lima, CEO of Brazilian indie distrib MovieMobz. “The situation is dire. For lack of capital, local exhibitors won’t make the transition and the value of their sites will erode without digital projectors.”

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