Lack of cinemas slows Ecuador surge

While Ecuadorians have been able to choose more homegrown fare amid the usual glut of Hollywood films (U.S. pics maintain a better than 90% marketshare) the sad reality is that there aren’t enough screens in the country (a paltry 220) to do them justice.

Local exhib/distrib Supercine controls a whopping 70% share of the market, while its smaller rivals include international exhib Cinemark, indie distrib/exhib Multicines and Consorcio Filmico, which releases studio pics as well. Cinemark has formed pacts with some filmmakers, while Multicine is deemed more supportive of local pics.

While current president Rafael Correa has been the biggest supporter of cinema in Ecuador’s history, and can be credited with championing the 2006 film law that created the National Film Council, along with enabling its annual funding, the country’s political parties do not share his enthusiasm, says the council’s head, Jorge Luis Serrano.

Bizzers are trying to expand the avenues for more coin by amending a law that prohibits television networks from investing in films which receive government funding.

Arturo Yepez, head of the national producers association, says a draft of a bill is in Ecuador’s congress to oblige networks to finance at least two pics a year. With elections pending in March, however, any legislation is unlikely to be acted on quickly.

Another sign of the nation’s attitude toward the biz is that it offers no tax incentives to filmmakers, and many feel that stance won’t change any time soon.

Nevertheless, Ecuador has attracted some big projects, the latest being German director Detlev Buck’s $13 million 3D period pic “Measuring the World.” According to producer Martin Rdesbeck, the country had several factors in its favor as a destination: jungles, mountains, the proximity of locations and a good film infrastructure.