No Filter directed by Nicolas Lopez
Copyright: Sobras Intl. Pictures

Eli Roth Chilewood partners hits a national nerve with woman’s life rage comedy

Netflix-financed “Sin Flitro” (No Filter”), the latest movie from Eli Roth’s Chilewood production-hub partner Nicolas Lopez, has bested “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the Chilean box office, punching nearly double “Force’s” admissions on “No Filter’s” first day at Chilean theaters and ending up top of Chilean B.O. charts.

Netflix will bow “No Filter” in May. Opening Thursday in Chile, it sold nearly 30,000 tickets. “Force,” entering its fourth week and with a $6.0 million box office through Jan 3 off a Dec. 17 bow, punched 15,582 admissions.

Local box office hits are still relatively rare in Chile, though “Stefan vs. Kramer” scored $12.0 million for Fox in 2012 and “Citizen Kramer” $5.1 million a year later. Only these two “Kramers” have scored higher openings than “No Filter” in the history of Chilean cinema. “Filter” sold out sessions.

A pioneer of geek gross-out comedy in Chile and genre entertainment, helming Roth-starrer “Aftershock” in 2012, was tracking to break out with “No Filter” ever since it began to rack up millions of hits on Facebook – two million through early November.

An anti-technology comedy of frustration, “No Filter” turns on Pia who works at an ad agency that deems her over the hill at 37, giving her a 20-year-old blogger boss. Ignored by her father, her boyfriend, and her best friend, spends more time when they meet looking at her iPhone than at Pia. Suffering panic attacks, she visits a doctor who tells her to speak her own mind, get everything out of her system. So she does. At first it’s liberating: She drops her friends iPhone into a glass of orange juice. But she ends up destroying nearly everything around her.

A co-writer on “Knock Knock” and producer of “The Green Inferno,” Lopez lead an inspired marketing campaign.

“We used Facebook marketing with the “No Filter” concept. All the actors did videos saying everything that they hated about the Chilean society and they went viral,” he told Variety Friday.

“We also did the National No Filter day, where people could send videos to a specific Whatsapp saying what they hated about the boss/friends/etc. And we did open mikes in some specific parts of Santiago where could go and speak their mind to get free ticket.”

Sobras Intl., Lopez’s company, also arranged a special screening just for women, which went viral. We ended up producing 14 viral videos. “Emoji ended up being our native tongue,” Lopez jests.

Also, the film looks to have touched a national nerve. Per Carlos Hansen, CEO of BF Distribution, “No Filter’s” distributor in Chile, “No Filter’s” first day surge suggests a generational B.O. phenom.

“People wanted to express their discontent about their life.This is not a movie about big themes. This is a movie about small themes: the apathy of the millennials, ageism, sexting, WhatsApp relationships, etc, and shows a world that’s happening right now,” Lopez concurred. “Also, it has a lead that’s a woman but not [cast] as an object of desire or somebody that defines herself based on who she wants to date. It’s the story of a professional woman that wants to be happy and is having a hard time with that.”

“No Filter” also underscores the rising muscle – and mind-blowing cost/return economics of independent national cinema – when it clicks – led by comedies.

“I always believed that local comedic can beat Hollywood blockbusters, but no one expected the opening to be quite so massive,” said Lopez.

Movie cost $700,000. He made it according to a “walking distance” movie, “meaning I only shot on locations walking distance from the production office in Santiago.” Produced by Miguel Asensio Llamas, Lopez’s longtime partner in Chile, “No Filter” was made start to finish in house, in Sobras International, from screenplay to DCP, including all marketing materials and social campaigns.

“It’s a victory for independent cinema,” Lopez said. He is now in talks to make an English-language remake.

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