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SouthAm Market Ends 2012 With Record Growth

Figures presented in Ventana Sur market show expanding business and a chronic gap in regional distribution.

BUENOS AIRES – As 2012 comes to an end, the South American film market is showing both an exciting expansion in attendance and box office figures, and a deeply rooted distribution gap with little interest for LatAm films and local productions sharing the crumbs of a concentrated, Hollywood-dominated exhibition market.

Regional distribution was certainly a focus in the last edition of the Ventana Sur market, which closed last Monday and welcomed over 300 sales agents and distributors from all over the world. While various film stats companies presented an optimist landscape with an average 10 percent growth in tickets and revenue, several new efforts were launched seeking to increase distribution of SouthAm films within the countries of the region, like Cinemachile and Latinopolis. Still, the very politically integrated region shows poor numbers regarding distribution of SouthAm films within the region, with only a handful of films being released, usually the ones with stars like Ricardo Darin or Gael Garcia Bernal leading the cast.

Argentina’s year was certainly booming, according to figures by Ultracine: 44.2 million tickets sold and $258 million in general box office mark a record year in general terms. An unprecedented number of over 110 local releases overshadows the trifling amount of 12 films from other South American countries opening in Buenos Aires theaters. The distribution market share showed the more interesting data, with 82 percent of it in the hands of US major studios (Universal, Disney, Paramount). By distributing the top 4 local films of the year, Disney championed a forthcoming scenario of big studios releasing local movies, a new regulation enforced by the government to get studios contributing to local film production.

Chile raised attention this year with a 13 percent increase in general box office against last year, and a record box office spike of 237 percent for local production, although this was mostly due to the new all-time local hit Stefan vs Kramer, a film by TV comedian and impersonator Stefan Kramer and distributed by Fox, which ranked second behind Ice Age 4 the top gross across the region. A current festival favorite, Chilean cinema is on the rise, with a record number of 26 films released this year, and effective promoting company Cinemachile now getting into distribution of local films.

In regional mogul Brazil, a growing middle class is pushing box office numbers up, according to Filme B consultant Paulo Sergio. While the market share for local films stays within the low regional standards (nine percent), 60 percent of those spectators are captured by local comedies, which make up for the top 4 local films at the box office. “This isn’t an issue of aesthetics,” said Sergio, “it’s just that there hadn’t been many comedies for a long time”.

According to Sergio, the expanding moment and record year enjoyed by the Brazilian film industry (the largest one in the region, which went from $621 million in 2011 to $703 million in 2012) is due to the fact that “public policies for cinema work. Brazil acted quickly after the industry was devastated in the Collor administration. And the self esteem we gained back with international awards, together with distributors and exhibitors joining forces, has contributed to a society that thinks positive”.