‘Adobo’ cooks plans for U.S. breakout

Producers looking to tap Fil-Am market

MANILA — Filipino films took a bold step forward recently with “American Adobo,” the first Filipino film entirely shot in the U.S. and one that is making B.O. inroads into that Hollywood studio dominated market.

“American Adobo” opened Jan. 25 in three New York City-area theaters, racking up a tasty $41,000. U.S. distrib Outrider Pictures bowed the pic Feb. 1 in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Engagements are slated in Houston, Dallas, Seattle, Honolulu and Washington, D.C.

“Anywhere there is a military base or a hospital, we’ll bow this film,” Abramowitz says, “due to the disproportionate numbers of Filipinos working in these fields.”

The pic — a comedy about five Filipino-American friends who live in New York — was written by New York-based Vincent Nebrida and directed by Laurice Guillen, one of the Philippine cinema’s most critically acclaimed and commercially successful directors.

Giving the project heat that most Filippino pics don’t get were ABS-CBN Entertainment, the largest film and TV production house in the Philippines, and Kevin Foxe (executive producer of “The Blair Witch Project”), who teamed for exec producing chores. Unitel Pictures, a subsid of Unitel Prods., the country’s top advertising production house, backed the laffer, which opened Jan. 16 in Manila.

The producers see the film’s universal appeal in its themes of friendship and the struggle of immigrants for cultural integrity outside their native country. Adobo — a favorite Filipino dish that is always at the center of the characters’ gatherings — ties the film together. And, unlike most Filipino films, “Adobo’s” script deviates from the sex- and action-heavy drama formula.

“There is a huge Fil-Am market out there that lies largely untapped. This movie speaks to that audience,” says Unitel Pictures president and CEO Tony Gloria.

(Anthony D’Alessandro in Hollywood contributed to this report.)

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