Televisa drops film unit

Televicine folds into Videocine under name Grupo Cine

MEXICO CITY — Grupo Televisa has axed its Televicine film division, leaving in question the media giant’s commitment to film production.

Televicine had been Mexico’s most prolific producer in recent years, responsible for several local B.O. champs. Last year’s teen-themed “La Primera Noche” (The First Night) grossed about $1.8 million — a six-year record for a Mexican pic at the time.

Apparently as part of its cost-cutting and restructuring efforts, Televisa is folding Televicine operations into its film distribution company, Videocine. The two are reportedly being merged under the name of their former holding, Grupo Cine, and will be run by Videocine topper Eckhardt Von Damme.

Televicine’s director Diego Lopez, who was only hired last August, was laid off late last week. He had been the fourth director of the film unit in so many years.

The future of his projects is unclear, including the sequel to “La Primera Noche,” for which helmer and co-writer Alejandro Gamboa was skedded to start shooting next month.