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The global economic crisis has not spared Latin America, where admissions have stagnated and, in the case of Argentina, continued a three-year descent. Complicating matters, the Hollywood studios pushed out more releases across the continent, and several went day and date, forcing indie distribs to scramble.

“We’ve had to spend more time in planning our promotional strategy for each territory,” says IDC Films’ Pedro Rodriguez, who has a distribution deal with Summit Entertainment and released “Twilight” across the region.

Inflation has impacted P&A costs, making marketing pics an expensive endeavor. In Argentina, ad spend plunged 50%, according to Bernardo Zupnik of Distribution Co. Even a multiple Oscar winner such as “Slumdog Millionaire” underperformed in the territory, where it nabbed only 400,000 admissions. A pic with an Oscar pedigree would normally attract twice that, Zupnik points out. “Even studios are spending less on advertising,” he adds.

Anemic DVD sales and rampant piracy continue to exacerbate woes.

Indie distribs are expecting a respite later this year as studios release fewer pics. New distribution outlets such as video-on-demand and Blu-ray DVDs are on a slow rise, but socioeconomic circumstances are expected to stifle their growth.

CINEMA STATS

Total 2008 box office: $1.56 billion

Total 2008 releases: 2,351

Biggest indie hit: “Twilight” ($26.8 million)

Local breakout for 2009: “Sin tetas no hay paraiso” (Colombia)

PICKUPS:

  • “Planet 51” (Quality Films of Mexico, Latin America)

  • “Astro Boy” (IDC Films, Latin America)

  • “Departures” (Cine Colombia, Colombia)

  • “Slumdog Millionaire” (Distribution Co., Argentina)

  • “Happy Go Lucky” (Cineplex, Central America)