GUADALAJARA – Mexican Film Institute Imcine delivered mixed news March 6 at the launch of its 2015 Statistical Yearbook.
“Mexico’s production output rose to 140 pics [encompassing fiction, animation and documentaries] last year, the highest number in the history of Mexican cinema,” said political scientist and sociologist José Woldenberg who outlined the key findings of the yearbook. “The bad news is that its market share dipped for the second consecutive year, despite high admissions,” he added. In fact, Mexico’s film production level exceeded the 135 features reported in 1958 and 130 the year prior. Of the 286 million tix sold last year, only 17.5 million accounted for homegrown fare, a 6.5% share. In 2013 – when “Nosotros Los Nobles” and “Instructions Not Included” made box office history, 30 million people went to see local pics.
Other notable factoids: Women directed a record-busting 25% of the total number of productions, a 5% uptick over the previous year. Furthermore, independently made documentaries made up 35% of the total, of which women helmed 20%.
However, the twin issues facing Mexican cinema remain exhibition and distribution. Not unlike its counterparts in Latin America and other territories worldwide – with some exceptions – U.S. pics dominate local screens. Asked whether the record output could have exacerbated these challenges, Sanchez told Variety: “No, volume is a healthy sign, it reflects diversity.”
The unprecedented collaboration of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) in this edition revealed that Mexican film industry’s contribution to the national economy was more robust than expected. “It is seven times more dynamic than the overall Mexican economy,” it reported, citing that the average increase of 6.7% in the local film industry’s GDP between 2008 and 2013 far exceeded the total national GDP of 1.4%.
Currently 70% of the pics made in Mexico are supported by the state.
The answer to Mexico’s distribution and exhibition problems is to go digital, said Sanchez. To this end, Imcine’s private investment incentive Fidecine will be calling for two bids this year towards the digital upgrades of some screens, starting with 60 of them.
Imcine also participates in four digital platforms: Filmin Latin, which now boasts up to 1,600 titles in its catalog, the newly launched Retina Latina, founded by six Latin American film institutes, and the websites of libraries in Mexico and Ibero-American cultural institutions.