Par preps Mexico prod'n arm

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GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- Paramount Pictures is preparing to launch a shingle in Mexico, making it the latest major to hop on the local production bandwagon here.

Raul Bravo, managing director of Paramount's home entertainment division in Mexico, will be evaluating the business model with Michael Horn, who heads up Paramount's theatrical releases here.

While the company has made no appointments yet for the production unit, Bravo currently has more than 10 projects on his desk.

"We plan to evaluate projects throughout the year," Bravo said on the sidelines of the Guadalajara International Film Festival. "We have no deadline to begin but we'd like to move forward as soon as possible."

In January, Paramount Pictures International established distribution arm Paramount Pictures Mexico to replace United International Pictures Mexico, its joint venture with Universal. Bravo said Paramount was waiting to conclude its division with Universal before launching local production operations.

Other films produced by majors in Mexico have performed fairly well at the boxoffice. Columbia Productions Mexico's "Ninas Mal" (Charm School) has taken in $5.3 million in three weeks. "Cansada de Besar Sapos" (Tired of Kissing Frogs), a production of Disney's Latin American label Miravista, has earned $6.6 million on a 14-week run. Warner Bros. Mexico's "Efectos Secundarios" (Side Effects) pulled in $4.2 million after 11 weeks in theaters, according to Nielsen EDI.

"Even though they are competitors, we are happy that they are doing well with their projects in Mexico," Bravo said. "It's important for the industry and it's important for our company."

Paramount Pictures Mexico handles Paramount Studios product, including titles from DreamWorks, Paramount Vantage, MTV and Nickelodeon.
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