Domestic product leads to Mexico b.o. record

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MEXICO CITY -- Mexico expects to see an all-time high in boxoffice receipts this year, driven partly by a dramatic increase in market share for domestic fare.

In its annual industry report released Thursday, the National Film Chamber (Canacine) estimated theaters here will sell 174 million tickets by year's end, up 5.6% from last year's previous mark. Canacine president Miguel Angel Davila said that represents about $605 million in receipts.

Mexican films performed exceptionally well this year, led by the horror film "Kilometer 31," which grossed nearly $11 million. On the year, Mexican cinema saw a 63% spike in boxoffice sales, translating into an 8% market share.

"Many records were broken this year. It was a big year for the industry," Davila said.

What's more, Canacine said more help is on the way for local producers. Under an agreement signed by the nation's leading exhibitors, distributors and producers, the chamber announced a new series of measures aimed to boost boxoffice performance for domestic productions.

Among the actions taken, Mexican releases will hit theaters on Thursdays rather than Fridays to give them four-day opening weekends. Theater chains also will be required to devote a minimum of two weeks' screen time for Mexican films. Additionally, major exhibitors have agreed to significantly increase the amount of time dedicated to trailers and teasers for homegrown product.

Hollywood fare, which continues to dominate the Mexican market, also enjoyed strong growth. Canacine said Sony's "Spider-Man 3" raked in more than $35 million, an all-time high here. Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and Paramount's "Shrek the Third" finished the year in the No. 2 and 3 spots, respectively. Leading distributors in terms of market share this year were Fox, Paramount and Sony, according to Nielsen EDI.

In the exhibition sector, Mexico will end the year with 3,900-plus screens, nearly double the screen count of Brazil, Latin America's second-largest territory. Mexico's market leader, Cinepolis, built 132 screens, bringing its nationwide total to 1,525.
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