Thursday, October 8, 2009


Roadside Attractions is releasing both Good Hair and From Mexico with Love today. We all know about Good Hair, the Toronto premiering doc by Chris Rock inspired by his daughter’s hair styling concerns. Check out Roadside Attraction’s Facebook Page and you’ll see more on this hands-down, well-loved film.

It’s From Mexico with Love which offers the challenge and possible new insights into distribution to the niche Mexican audience. Starring Kuno Becker a big star in Mexico and known here for the Goal Films and costarring Danay Garcia, a well loved Mexican telenovela star who also has a regular role in Fox's upcoming series Prison Break, it will be released on 281 screens in California, New Mexico and Arizona. (Good Hair will go out on 185 screens.)

The film is a Rocky-esque inspirational story in which a washed-up trainer takes a self-destructive young boxer under his wing. It is receiving important radio notice on Latino stations. While A Day without a Mexican played in Sundance, this film played in the San Diego Latino Film Festival. Whether that impacts the film is interesting to speculate upon, though I don’t think Sundance is a relevant factor, and San Diego’s impact is uncertain. The film did quite well in Mexico which could mean it’s been seen already in US illegally or that its reputation will create interest here.

Most interesting is the chance to compare and perhaps replicate the success of A Day Without a Mexican whose opening weekend was $620,000. It played theatrically from May to November 2004 finally grossing $4.18 million in US. Very little has hit the Latino (primarily Mexican) market to that tune since -- with the exception of Fox Searchlight's 2007 Sundance pickup Under The Same Moon in 2008 which grossed $12,589,108 -- but the majors and their P&A budgets essentially take their films out of the league we are discussing here.

***Late posting: Opening weekend From Mexico with Love was $334,340 (#26 rank, 279 theaters, $1,198 average) % of Total Gross: 66.1%
Widest Release: 279 theaters In Release: 10 days / 1.4 weeks. Now at $505,606.

It doesn't compare with A Day Without a Mexican whose Opening Weekend:
$628,807 was in 56 theaters averaging$11,228 and ranking #15. % of Total Gross:
15.0% View All 31 Weekends

Latino programming has been out of the spotlight lately after its 2004 to 2007 whirlwind of activities by companies looking to cash in on the elusive Latino market and riding in on the wave of ADWOM. We haven’t heard much news of Lionsgate Latino programming section who in 2006 hired Arturo Chavez to head up its Latino video division. Jim McNamara was named non executive chairman in August 2008 of Cine Latino and in principle is continuing to run production company Panamax Films which has a distribution deal with Lionsgate. Its last credits were 2007's Ladron que roba el ladron (Robber of Robbers) released by Lionsgate and Univision and grossing $4m and Sangre de mi sangre, (Blood of My Blood), which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007, was released by IFC and grossed $54,000 and 2006's La mujer de mi hermano (My Brother's Wife) from Colombia which grossed $2.8m. The only news of other Latino oriented distributors was last summer's Latino showcase tour starting at the Aero and initiated by Maya's Moctezuma Esparza. Maya's 2009 releases, Casi divas, M├íncora and Sleep Dealer grossed $46,200, $29,700 and $75,700 respectively.

LA Latino Film Festival (LALIFF) is featuring a panel discussion on distribution in these markets October 15 at 4pm at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood, 3rd floor. I’ll be moderating it and panelists will include

  • Ignacio Darnaude who is credited in IMDb for the idea and as exec producer of Casi Divas and whose day job is with Sony Pictures Releasing International as EVP International Creative Adverstising where he is responsible for the creation of international print and audiovisual marketing materials of all major Sony Pictures releases. He developed the international campaigns for some of the highest grossing pictures in Sony’s history, including “The Da Vinci Code”, “Spider Man 3” and “Casino Royale”. In addition to his marketing responsibilities, Mr. Darnaude initiated and executive produced two of the highest grossing films in Mexican history: “Ladies’ Night” and “Ninas Mal” (“Charm School”); “Ladies’ Night” was the first film produced in Spanish by the Walt Disney Company.
  • Jim McNamara – CineLatino, discussed above as Founder and Chairman of Panamax Films, Chairman of Cine Latino, the leading premium Spanish-language movie channel in the U.S. McNamara was most recently President and Chief Executive Officer of Telemundo Communications Group, Inc., headquartered in Hialeah, Florida.
  • Santiago Pozo, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ARENAS.
    Santiago is considered one of the foremost authorities on entertainment and film marketing to U.S. Latino audiences. Over the past 20 years, Pozo and the ARENAS team have worked on marketing over 300 films, including Transformers, Star Trek, Madagascar, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Chronicles of Narnia, Apocalypto, Shrek, Empire, Selena, and Like Water for Chocolate.

We will be discussing reaching the elusive Latino market which is by no means monolithic and whose members want to see mainstream films as much as the next guy. But the niche has recognized spending power. The big question is, what films will tap into that cash flow? For that reason we will be watching From Mexico With Love.

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