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Los Cabos: Canada Media Fund, Mexico’s Imcine Ink Co-development Pact

Deal looks set to prioritize sometimes digital-first kids-teens shows

LOS CABOS, Mexico — Kicking off industry dealings at the 6th Los Cabos Film Festival, Mexico’s Imcine public sector film-TV agency and Canada Media Fund signed a co-development pact on Thursday for film, TV and digital-first shows which looks set to prioritize content targeting youth and children’s demographies, sometimes made for digital-first distribution.

For Imcine, two factors drove the agreement, Imcine director Jorge Sánchez explained at Los Cabos. “Canada Media Fund is an exemplary public entity which has taken risks, embracing new narratives and formats directed at young audiences.”

Secondly, “development is the key to a good project.” Also, Sánchez argued, regarding public policy, “there’s very little to invent, and a lot to adapt from other countries, and Canada Media Fund is ready to share its know-how.”

The agreement looks likely to embrace not only conventional TV shows, movies, documentaries and animation but also digital first web series with maybe more conventional broadcast tie-ins.

The deal links Imcine to a powerful North American player. A public-private sector partnership backed by Canada’s government and its telecom companies, CMF invests $370 million a year in content in Canada, triggering about $1.4 billion in annual production, CMF president Valerie Creighton said at  the Los Cabos signature ceremony.

“This agreement’s objective is to support co-development on TV projects with high artistic quality, cultural value and encourage ways to engage new audiences, strengthen relations between Mexican and Canadian producers, and foster the exchange between development leading to production,” she added.

Canada has over 50 co-production treaties around the world managed by CMF partner Telefilm Canada.

The co-development pact is designed to “get producers together at the development stage so that creative elements comes together organically,” Creighton said. “On co-production, it is so hard to make contact around the world and everybody chases the money. But you know that chasing money doesn’t make good co-productions sometimes.”

Mexico now joins a select list of CMF co-pro partners around the world which include Belgium, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Israel and New Zealand.

The pact comes at a key time for Mexico’s film and TV scene. Over the last decade, it has diversified its instruments of state intervention, adding, crucially, Eficine tax coin funding. Key film companies are now moving into TV production led by Alazraki Ent., producers of Netflix’s first original series from Latin America, “Club of Crows.”

Two high-end TV series, designed for the world market and U.S digital or studio partnerships, were announced at Los Cabos: “Antonieta,” from Gastón Pavlovich’s Fábrica de Cine, and “Litempo,” from Panorama. Mexico has some of the key animation creators in Latin America, led by Anima Estudios and Gabriel and Rodolfo Riva Palacio Alatriste whose “Un gallo con mucho huevos” is the fourth highest-grossing foreign-language film in the U.S in the last three years, earning $9.1 million for Lionsgate-Televisa’s Pantelion.

Cinemagoing is based on family/kids attendance in Mexico. Moreover, SVOD penetration will near double by 2021 in Latin America, up to 31.1 million customers as, crucially, average broadband speeds passed Netflix-enabling 4MG in last quarter 2016 and family entertainment spend continues to grow, according to Erik Brannon, at IHS Markit.

The big question is whether Mexico, here joining forces with Canada, can take advantage of this opportunity.

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