‘La Senal’ sweeps Argentine

Caper film dominates local box office

BUENOS AIRES — Argentinean detective caper “La Senal” dominated the local box office in its Sept. 13-16 opening, dethroning “The Bourne Ultimatum” with more than twice the number of tix sold. Distributed by Buena Vista Intl., it sold 104,335 admissions on 58 screens, while”Bourne” came in second with 44,790 off 43 screens in its second week, according to provisional ACNielsen EDI Argentina figures. 

“Premonition” fell to third from second over the four days and “Live Free or Die Hard” slid to sixth from third. “License to Wed” and “The Simpsons Movie” held out at fourth and fifth, respectively.

“It is a period film and people are not used to this with Argentine films,” said Pablo Bossi, who produced the $2.1 million-budgeted pic under his Pampa Films banner with co-producers including Spain’s Wanda Vision and Fenix.

Tight budgets of $1 million or less keep most Argentine pics focused on the present day, unable to bankroll the sets of historical pieces, Bossi said.

“La Senal” is about two small-time detectives who take on a riskier-than-expected case in 1952, as Argentina’s first lady, Eva Peron, is dying.

Pic is based on a novel by Eduardo Mignogna, who died last year while it was in pre-production.

“La Senal” is the directing debut of Argentine thesp Ricardo Darin (“Son of the Bride”), who co-stars with Diego Peretti. He co-directed with Martin Hodara, also making his debut.

It is the first release of Pampa Films, which Bossi formed last year with Spain’s Filmax Entertainment and Argentine helmer-producer Juan Pablo Buscarini after selling his interests in Disney-backed Patagonik Film Group.

Timing helped “La Senal.” After a torrent of children’s fare during the June-July holidays, “It is still cold and parents are looking for entertainment without the kids,” said Bossi.

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