Cannes: Mexico’s Film Distribution Business Faces Challenging Future

While Mexico’s movie production output has reached historic levels, distribution and exhibition — whether in theaters or online — remain thorny issues.

Mexican cinema captured a 10% share of the theatrical market last year, down 2% from 2013. While a double-digit market share for national cinema has not occurred in three decades, just around half of the annual output sees a bigscreen release.

“We’re producing more than 100 films a year now, but not enough distributors are picking them up,” says Nueva Era distributor Leopoldo Jimenez, who cites ND Mantarraya, Alphaville, Videocine, Corazon Films, Cine Canibal and most recently major exhib Cinepolis among the companies releasing homegrown pics.

The Hollywood studios tend to cherry-pick, and Warner Bros. hit the jackpot with 2013 record-breaking hit “Nosotros los nobles” (“The Noble Family,” pictured above).

“It’s going to be even tougher this year for Mexican films with the influx of major Hollywood juggernauts: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ ‘Star Wars: Episode VII,’ ‘Jurassic World,’ etc.,” says Mexico City-based Rentrak head Luis Vargas.

Spearheaded by Jorge Sanchez, a vet producer who took over Mexican state-run film institute Imcine in 2013, Imcine is introducing various online programs to help ease the bottleneck. Accessibility and consistency are pivotal to improved distribution, Sanchez says. “We’ve had a good presence in film festivals, but we need to reach more of our local audience,” he says.

Since January, the Digital Cinema Mexico initiative has enlisted some 150 outlets across the country, which include libraries, cultural centers and film clubs, to offer national pics. Furthermore, the 22-country co-production stimulus program Ibermedia is launching an educational site in Cannes that will include extensive info about at least 140 titles from Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

Additionally, Imcine is joining forces with Spanish VOD service Filmin Espana on May 27 to include some 600 titles from Mexico, Latin America and other territories.

Since last year, fiscal stimulus Eficine 189 has allotted $3.2 million toward P&A support. “It becomes less risky for us distributors if the producer comes to us with P&A funds,” says Jimenez.

Film investment and incentive fund Fidecine has also set aside $1.9 million for faltering exhibition circuits, which will pledge to screen Mexican pics in exchange for help in converting to digital.

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