As most cinemas remain closed across most of Latin America due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Colombian indie distributor Cineplex, run by Elba McAllister, has set a July 1 launch for the region’s first virtual theatrical exhibition initiative, CineplayMAX.

Inspired by similar schemes in the U.S., led by Kino Lorber, and Spain’s A Contracorriente Films, CineplayMAX has entered pacts with a host of independent exhibitors in the region to play their first-run and repertory titles online.

A host of independent exhibitors have already joined the initiative including Colombia’s Cineland, VO Cinemas, Cinelandia, Multiplex Villacentro, Colombo Americano, Maloka and Cinematheque of the Caribbean while a handful more from Peru, Ecuador and Argentina have also signed on.

CineplayMAX will also premiere documentary “Jinetes del Paraiso,” directed by the anthropologist and director Talia Osorio and narrated by Grammy winner El Cholo Valderrama, which will take viewers on an exploration of the grand plains of Colombia. It will be available with English subtitles to better serve an international audience. 

Other premieres include Italian Daniele Luchetti’s comedy, “92 Minutos Para Ser Feliz,” Iranian drama “Cold Sweat,” Woody Allen’s “A Rainy Day in New York,” Chinese action film “Bodies at Rest,” French comedy “Victor & Celia” and Spanish drama by Rodrigo Sorogoyen, “El Reino” (The Realm).

But CineplayMax will still serve a purpose once theatres open their doors. “As traditional movie theaters open and return to normal, we will feature two premieres and play movies that were recently in theaters and not available on other transactional platforms,” said McAllister, adding that it will also include titles that have played at film festivals.

“Until a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment is made available, movie theaters will need to implement biosecurity measures so that viewers will have the confidence to return,” McAllister pointed out. Mexico’s Cinepolis, for instance, has begun to gradually open its cinemas but with strict health and safety protocols in place.

She foresees that it will take several months for things to fully return to normal. Once it does, “CineplayMAX will also serve as an ancillary platform after a film’s theatrical run,” she said.

“This global crisis leaves us with the need to adapt and enjoy what we like: Good cinema, anywhere and anytime.”