‘Guilty’ breaks B.O. record for Mexican doc

Pic overtakes Mandoki's 2006 election expose 'Fraude'

MEXICO CITY — “Presumed Guilty” (Presunto culpable) has sold more tickets than any Mexican documentary ever, pulling in 18.6 million pesos ($1.54 million) at the box office in just 10 days.

The pic, which probes the warped Mexican judicial system, has overtaken the record $1.11 million notched up by Luis Mandoki’s “Fraude,” about the controversial 2006 Mexican presidential election.

Cinepolis, the nation’s top exhib, is handling distribution for “Presumed” — its first outing as a distrib.

In its second weekend, Cinepolis expanded the doc’s run from 130 copies in six cities to 200 in 21 cities.

Now “Presumed” looks set to take pole position as the highest grossing doc in Mexico from any nation, a record held by Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which earned $2.24 million in 2004.

“Presumed” has benefited from numerous radio and TV interviews with the lawyers behind the project, Roberto Hernandez and Layda Negrete.

Co-directed by Hernandez and British documaker Geoffrey Smith, the doc details the nightmarish trials of Antonio Zuniga, accused of murder in 2005 and sentenced to 20 years in prison, despite proof that he was elsewhere at the time of the murder.

Hernandez and Negrete were able to get Zuniga a retrial and he was released in 2008.

“We are pleasantly surprised at the results,” said Cinepolis prexy Alejandro Ramirez. “We knew there was curiosity to see the film, but we did not imagine the response would be so overwhelming.”

The doc preemed at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival and in Mexico at the Morelia Film Festival, where it won the best documentary award. A short version of the film aired on PBS stations Stateside in December.