Hollywood Gets ‘Instructions’ From Latino Audiences

Instructions Not Included

How Lionsgate and Pantelion cooked up what will become the biggest-grossing Spanish-language film in the U.S.

It seems Lionsgate and Pantelion have finally found the instructions for how to target widespread Hispanic auds. Pantelion’s “Instructions Not Included” is the rare film that started with a medium-sized opening and continues to add theaters and increase B.O. in its fourth week.

The $34.3 million domestic grosser is shaping up as a record-breaker in several ways: It’s about to overtake Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” as the highest-grossing Spanish language film ever in the U.S. It’s also the top limited release (under 1,000 screens) of the year, and this last weekend became the biggest Mexican film opening weekend ever in Mexico, with $11.6 million.

Having expanded to 978 theaters from 348 screens in the past few weeks, “Instructions Not Included” has played well in major markets like Los Angeles, New York, Houston and Dallas, with the highest-grossing theaters in California and Texas.

But why has this film clicked with the large Hispanic audience base where many others have not?

Much of it is due to director and star Eugenio Derbez, a Mexican TV telenovela and variety show star who also voices the donkey in “Shrek” in Mexico and starred in “Under the Same Moon,” which grossed a sizable $12.6 million domestically in 2008.

“This is his movie,” says Pantelion CEO Paul Presburger. “He has a very loyal audience, and he’s devoted so much time to marketing this movie.”

Pantelion spent less than $5 million marketing the film — a considerable sum for the specialty company, though hardly comparable to a studio’s marketing spend for a major release.

Latino audiences — the most enthusiastic moviegoing demo in the country, representing 22% of frequent moviegoers with only 16% of the U.S. population — turn out in outsized proportions for animated films and studio pics with Latino thesps like the “Fast and Furious” franchise. But many previous attempts to directly target the massive aud with Spanish-language films or using Latino talent have stumbled, perhaps because the modestly-budgeted efforts looked too much like art films and lacked family appeal.

But that’s not the case with “Instructions,” the PG-13-rated story of man whose way of life is threatened when the mother of his six-year-old daughter resurfaces, which has attracted Latino families across the country who often didn’t feel there was much for them in theaters.

“If you look at demographic changes over the last five years, in terms of where people are moving, places like North Carolina are now heavily populated with Latinos,” Presburger notes.

While “Instructions” also has marketing and distribution muscle from a big distrib (Pantelion is a joint label between Lionsgate and Televisa), the commercial dramatic comedy hasn’t tapped into non-Hispanics the way “Pan’s Labyrinth” did when it became an awards contender.

“A lot of people will say this film came out of nowhere, but we spent a lot of time and energy marketing the film to our core audience,” Presburger told Variety after the film’s Labor Day release.

“We didn’t rely just on Univision, we also bought outdoor media and radio that would hit family and women demographics.”

Targeting families — an underserved demo since “Planes” bowed more than a month ago — has been a key component to the film’s success, driven, in large part, by Derbez’s presence. Tie-in promotions for “Instructions” included the Jarritos soda located at several hundred supermarkets throughout the U.S.

Pantelion has released several other Spanish-language films, including Eva Mendes’ “Girl In Progress,” which grossed only $2.6 million last year. Its biggest release before “Instructions” was Will Ferrell’s Spanish-lingo R-rated comedy “Casa de mi Padre.”

Up next for Pantelion is the 50/50 split English-Spanish language comedy “Pulling Strings,” which bows Oct. 4.

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  1. dulce vargas says:

    This has to be the best movie ever.. And am not just saying it cuz its spanlish no am saying it because it has a grate message in the value of life …. And maybe we need less hate out there in the world and more curage tu give everything we have even if it does scare us. Derbez bien echo

  2. Reina says:

    This movie is amazing!!! After the movie all I wanted to do was go home and see my 2 year old! Best movie ever :’)

  3. ilse says:

    Thank you so much Mr. Derbez!!!, Awesome actor…awesome movie!!!

  4. Claudia Vazquez says:

    So proud of Derbez the best movie ive seen in a while. Orgullo Mexicano.

  5. Mongab says:

    A great movie 👍

  6. yessi Carrillo says:

    The best movie. Ever

  7. jmssia says:

    Instuctions Not Incuded, is definitely the best spanish movie of the year! : ) Keep it up Eugeniothebest!

  8. alejandra says:

    WOW!!!! Si no te gusta la pelicula o no saves español no vallas a verla y ya! Que demonios tiene una pelicula que ver con tu odio e ignorancia hacia vida de otros seres humanos. Por gente como tu no se progresa. Da gracias a dios de aver nacido en este pais (si es el caso) te toco todo muy facilito. Deja de molestar y abre tu mente a lo desconosido. Y si no saves español so sorry 4 u. Lo hubiera podido escribir en ingles por que yo si pude aprender nuevos idiomas. Pero me caes mal asi que si te interesa investiga

  9. Blanca Alvarez says:

    In my opinion the movie had a massive success due to the fact tha Eujenio Derbez has always been down to earth with his audience; latinos tend to be loyal to him due to his great character and sense of humor. I am very happy for his success. He deserves it after a long time as an actor!!!

  10. JC says:

    Best movie of 2013! I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets nominated for an Oscar or better…
    And, its defenetly okay people hate on it too, thats what success is all about, “no haters; not successful” THIS IS HOW ITS DONE!
    Congrats my dear ED

  11. Romelia says:

    El arte es universal y es para todas las razas hay que aprender a verlo desde ese punto de vista. Esta pelicula te va llevando a tocar las fibras mas ocultas del corazon k es el amor.
    Con todo respeto esto no es un foro para hablar de si somos mexicanos o no.
    Cuando se aprenda a ver esto entonces sabran apreciar un buen cine.

  12. caro says:

    My husband never heard about Eugenio Derbez, and he loved it.
    I think its just because the movie it’s freaking good!
    Grate jokes, good acting, good story, and it takes you through every emotion posible.
    Love this film.

  13. the irony here is that your comment is both nasty and ignorant

  14. Tnxy says:

    I love this movie, It mades me cry and laugh.

  15. Tnxy says:

    It is very sad to hear things like that from a human being. You have to respect more to people and love to yourself.

  16. claudia ramirez says:

    Congratulations to Eugenio Derbez i’m so proud of him, he is an excellent example of the mexican talent. Ilhim

  17. isabella says:

    Eugenio Derbez you are the best.

  18. Gerardo E Dominguez says:

    This Peter Presburger, denotes ignorance even in this market , is in charge of a company that does not know what talent is distributed. Under-estimated even at this Latin American market. It wasn’t Pantelion Films success. Was the, perseverance and promotion made by ​​Eugene Dervez.

    Indeed, this character SOAP OPERA IS NOT, never has participated in them. Neither as a Variety Artist as described in this executive in charge?

    All of the previous films distributed by Pantelion, like Jenni Rivera film “Filli Brown”, was a reverend economic disaster for the producer, “Red Lips”, great comedy, Pantelion did not believe in this, though in this case involved now if stellar senior stars Novel Jorge Salinas and Silvia Navarro .. . was thrown away without any promotion … Casa de mi Padre, lackluster box office, Go for It, needless to say 90,000 dollars first week and out!

    So with these examples Eugenio standing applaud to Dervez. that was the only one that is achieving this success NOT the distributor!

    • Jose Alberto Hermosillo says:

      I totally agree. If Pantaleon had made a more democratic promotion of “Intructions” with better press coverage (Spanish and English) the film would ended it up grossing 50 million as the Afro-american films do. “Cinco de Mayo The Battle” also come and go. For “Pulling Strings” will be a disaster too. And people love Dervez for his charisma and comedy shows, that’s why this faithfull Latin audience made some noice and brought some more Latino audience, and now because of that noice some Anglo and other minorities are curios about the numbers and about Eugenio’s movie. “La Bamba” did really good thanks to the Coca Cola comertial. Grass roots need to me done in the all fashion.

  19. FRIDA says:

    SO WHATS THE BIG DEAL …….
    LET ME TELL YOU THIS….WE DONT SUPPORT TO SUPPORT JUST CAUSE HE IS MEXICAN …IS CAUSE WE KNOW HIM SINCE HE WAS LITTLE AND HIS MOM…..SO NOTHING LIKE THIS HAPPEN 12 YEARS AGO SO …IS NOT ABOUT POPULATION …..ABD NOT ONLY FULL MEXICAN SUPPORT HIM…..IS ALL LATIN AMERICA …ALL HISPANIC ALL LATINOS ALL CHICANOS AND IS CAUSE THEY ALL KNOW HIM….
    HES A GREAT PERSON…..
    GOD BLESS YOU .

  20. FRIDA says:

    ITS A GREAT MOVIE……DONT BE HATERS…..&
    YES NOT ONLY ALL MEXICANS & CHICANOS LOVE “YOU GENIOUS THE BEST (EUGENIO DERVEZ)”.
    HE IS A GREAT PERSON……HE DID HIS JOB LET …HE KNOWS WHAT WE LIKE & WE LIKE HIM SO DONT MAKE A BIG DEAL OUT OF THIS..
    RESPECT HIS MOVIE & GO WATCH IT SO YOU CAN JUDGE HIM INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED ” OTHERWISE KEEP YOUR RACIST COMMENTES TO YOURSELF…
    WHO UNDESTANDS YOU….IF A MEXICAN DOES GOOD..STILL A BAD THING FOR YOU GUYS…PLEASE…!!!!
    A MOVIE IS A MOVIE……
    THIS IS A FAMILY THING ……EUGENIO NEW …EVEN OLD PARENTS THAT DONT EVER GO OUT THE MOVIES DI IT……
    SO THIS IS A CONECTION.TO OUR HEART …..HOLLYWOOD WILL NEVER UNDESTAND WHY?????
    WAY TO GO EUGENIO!!!!!
    PROUD OF YOU……

  21. blue towely says:

    fyi. Eugenio Derbez is not a telenovela nor variety show star. He is a comedian, not the stand up type but plays characters in sketch comedy. That is what he is known for in latin america.

  22. mathman54 says:

    I am an Anglo who grew up in Corpus Christi, TX, where people have been comfortably speaking Spanish since the Colonial Era. I haven’t seen this movie, but the trailer for it made me yearn for my old hometown. One reason we in the US are not multilingual is because we are denied opportunities to try and we don’t challenge ourselves with the few opportunities that do pop up. More movies and TV with other languages and sub-titles (let’s practice our literacy, too)!

  23. Germán says:

    I would never go to Live to USA the people there are racist, ignorant and dont know anything about the world. When they go to ther countries they call ignorants the ones that don’t speak English, the ignorants are them, they are the ones that don’t speak any other language. And by the way, if there is a lot of people going to your country illegally is because the policies of USA are design to make America richer and other countries more poor. The list is huge, but Mexico is one of the most affected countries. There are lots of people dying because of the drug war, but you are the number one consumers in the whole word, if you didn’t consume there wouldn’t be so many deaths. Ignorants, racist, selfish and junkies… God bless America… You really need a huge blessing.

  24. erika says:

    validos los comentarios… pero finalmente no somos menos humanos. todos tenemos ojos brazos piernas cabello etc etc el color no hace la diferencia

    saludos amigos de usa

  25. Living in Austin says:

    I am not hispanic but my husband and I went to watch Instructions Not Included on opening weekend and we both thoroughly enjoyed this movie. We were a bit leery about subtitles (as we are not Spanish speakers), but found the movie to be both laugh out loud funny and incredibly sad at other times. Hollywood is out-of-touch with middle class America (regardless of heritage). This movie was spot-on. Bring us more movies like this, and I will return to movie theaters. Over the past few years I have been voting with my checkbook and staying home.

  26. JXlayo says:

    Can we please even try to distinguish between a mexican demographic and the rest of the hispanic population? Try playing this in NY or Miami and see what happens. Mexican tv already subjects all hispanics to mexican culture, the last thing we need is greedy Hollywood thinking this is what they need to produce.

  27. sandy cohen says:

    Great movie great photography great story and wonderful cast. don’t miss!!!!

  28. Jay says:

    Perfect, it won’t be long before Jerry Brown has to sign legislation making Spanish the official language of California… Hollywood has created another Rome.

    • estrella says:

      THAT would be awesome!! I would definitely vote for that. I mean… eso seria increible! Yo ire a votar por eso, definitivamente.

  29. Ed Connolly says:

    Colin, you sound like an idiot.

    Just for the record, I’m not a fan of mass, unchecked illegal immigration. I didn’t vote for Obama. I’m all for assimilation and in fact thinks it’s necessary to a healthy country and society. So, you’ll need to think of something else to accuse me of since I just took awy what ‘m sure is a reflexive response for you when people don’t agree with you. I’ll second what Dexter said ‘wow, just, wow’. But you do sound like an idiot, I might be wrong but I don’t think so. If you respond, we’ll have more information to judge you by.

  30. hillcoguy says:

    Mucho “BOPPO” por el guapo!

  31. Evan Gattis says:

    The movie is just a big deal because it is in Spanish, if it was in English, no one would have went to go see it. And to say this is a comedy, maybe it is considered that in Mexico, maybe they like it when they kill off the little girl at the end, they think it is funny? Movie is way over-rated!!

  32. John says:

    If there are English subtitles I don’t see the problem. I didn’t see anyone complain in Kill Bill when they spoke Japanese or Glorious Basterds.

    • Mike says:

      I agree – I have no issue with foriegn language films as long as there are English subtitles so I can understand things or pick up on things. I have often enjoyed foriegn produced films with sub-titles – for instance the I’ve watched all of the Girl with Dragon Tattoo movies – the norwegian versions and think they’re better than the American version.

      Plus, it’s good exposure to foriegn languages – I’d like to be able to be able to speak several languages if possible, with spanish being one as it would be very useful to know. When I visited Latvia, I was impressed by everyone as they all seemed to be fluent in 3 languages or more. I felt like an ignorant American and which I had made a greater effort or more opportunity to learn another language.

      People can assimilate and still hold down some of their culture traditions and values – this is what makes America a great place to be.

  33. Jill smith says:

    we mistakenly went to see this movie, not knowing it was completely in Spanish. we are glad we stayed. it was great!

  34. jlvaz says:

    It is nice to see a movie that doesn’t have a hidden political agenda. I really did enjoy it and I do not know a word of Spanish.

  35. jfm says:

    This is good. They are making money. What’s not to like?

    Bi-lingual may be the next big thing. Should have happened long ago.

  36. yessir says:

    They still havent understood that its egenio Derbez, all of latin america loves him!

  37. White clowns says:

    Hollywood sucks. All they care about is limiting risks when making big money decisions. I don’t care if this or that movie is produced by the same clown that produced some other mediocre movie. This was a great movie. Different, heartwarming, funny, inspiring. No wonder Hollywood can’t figure it out!

  38. Sal Vilar. says:

    Latino Americans need their own Tyler Perry. Closest thing they got is Robert Rodriguez and that’s just sad.

  39. Flayer says:

    Shiggy, in case you didn’t learn it at school but “Mexicans” are a people from a country called Mexico. They are not a different race. In fact, they are Caucasians for the most part. Some are from Indian ancestry, but mostly, the reason they speak Spanish is because they are “Hispanic” and of European ancestry, ie. Spain. Dumkoff. So it isn’t “racist” to complain about the “behavior of Mexicans.” It is simply complaining about the government and people of Mexico.

  40. Gary Colwill says:

    Half the movie is in English, and you don’t need to know Spanish to enjoy it. Go watch it and enjoy.

  41. Gary Colwill says:

    It’s actually in both English and Spanish. You should try being angry at the right target – the govermments involved and not the people. Then you’d be able to go to this movie which is half in English and half in Spanish and enjoy it – it’s a good movie regardless of the immigration problems.

  42. Gary Colwill says:

    Even if you don’t speak Spanish (I don’t), you should see this movie – very enjoyable. It’s actually mixed Spanish and English – where there is English spoken (which is quite often) Spanish subtitles are provided, and where Spanish is spoken (probably less than half the movie), English subtitles are provided. It’s a very compelling story with a surprise ending – go see it, and leave your preconceptions at the door. It’s definitely not a “nationalist” movie, as one commenter (who probably hasn’t seen the movie) puts it.

    • Gary Colwill says:

      Replying to my own post is bad form, but I don’t see an edit feature, so just wanted to add that I don’t understand why this movie wasn’t also marketed to the English-speaking public – it’s got to be at least half English, and it’s genuinely an entertaining movie.

      • dulce vargas says:

        I find one of the reason is that the message would not be the same do to some latin expretion translated to just english would not be the same … Example try translating a joke to spanish or visversa the point would be gone

      • I agree. I hadn’t heard about the film until I saw that it was sold out all day when I was buying tix to see the Grandmaster…another excellent film with subtitles. I went online to see what all the fuss was about. The story looks interesting. The production values look great. I’ll definitely check it out.

  43. fredy gutierrez says:

    Great movie !!! I’ve seen it twice already !!!

    • Asia's dad says:

      I agree! Completely stunned by the ending. Different type of humor but very, very moving on many levels. I’ll pay to see it again. I’m a 50yr old white English-speaking male with daughters and psychotic ex. wife, so this movie really had an impact. You’ll see why.

  44. diablo says:

    US guy here, it’s a pretty good movie, compared to all the bs coming out of Hollywood, tal vez they can learn something. But it’s Hollywood, maybe not.

  45. Marlayne says:

    I saw this movie. IT IS GREAT! Heartwarming, emotional, everything you would want in a movie and I did not anticipate the ending. Can’t recommend highly enough!

  46. JimVincent says:

    Never even heard of it.

  47. David says:

    Our non-hispanic family loved this film, and it is the first subtitled film my daughters enjoyed. My youngest cried three times.

  48. Jess says:

    Not sure why anyone is surprised by the success of a Spanish language movie in North Mexico (aka the United States).

    • litecola says:

      Not sure why anyone is surprised that a family-themed movie would do better than ‘artsy’ or violent movies, regardless of the language. I am US-born and learned to speak spanish in high school, and i will get this movie as soon as it’s available on disc.

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