MEXICO CITY – The Cinemex movie theater chain has dropped super-villain saga “Suicide Squad” in Mexico following a spat with its local distributor Universal Pictures Mexico, one of the country’s largest exhibitors announced Friday, disappointing fans who rushed to social media to vent their frustration. The decision is likely to cut into box office grosses in Mexico, a significant international box office territory.
“Dear guest, Suicide Squad will not be shown in any of our complexes,” Cinemex, which operates 296 cinemas and 2,500 movie screens, said in a statement, adding that the decision came after “the movie’s distributor, Universal Pictures Mexico, suddenly changed our pre-negotiated conditions.
“The new terms leave Cinemex at a disadvantage against competitors,” the statement continued.
The chain said moviegoers can go to any Cinemex location to demand a refund or exchange until August 11.
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Fans who bought pre-show tickets for the August 5 midnight premiere took to Twitter and Facebook. Some said, “Conspiracy? Was this Disney’s dark hand?” and “Cinemex. Lots of quantity and zero quality.”
Universal Pictures Mexico and Warner Bros. wanted to give Cinemex fewer copies of the film than they allotted to arch rival Cinepolis, Mexican news portal Hipertextual reported, adding that Cinemex was barred from holding promotions. A leaked management memo said the firm had pre-sold 75,000 tickets.
Industry sources said Cinemex’s decision looked odd.
“It draws attention because this movie was announced a long time ago and promises to be one of the year’s top box-office hits,” said film expert Jorge Bravo.
Despite poor reviews, the comic book film is expected to pull over $100 million when it screens in 57 international markets including Mexico this weekend. It has grossed more than $30 million internationally already.
Bravo added that moviegoers in Mexico, the top movie territory in Latin America, are enamored with hero movies, with “Spider-man” and “Batman” movies topping the box office in the past decade. He said Cinemex is a “huge distributor” with a growing regional presence. Therefore, Universal Pictures must have had a strong reason to negotiate better terms with Cinepolis, he added.
Cinepolis, which runs over 3,100 screens in Mexico, caters to fancier customers in the premium-movie segment growing rapidly in Mexico with venues offering more luxurious halls and amenities such as dining and drinks like certain complexes in the U.S.
This is the second time Cinemex has tangled with Universal. In 2010, “Inception” opened late amid disagreements between the two distributor and exhibitor.
Cinemex, Universal Pictures Mexico and Warner Bros. could not immediately be reached for comment.