Mexico 2014 in Review: James Bond Shoot Booked, Narco Shows Rise
Mexican talent is in the hunt for the Oscar once again, and 2014 also proved that business in Latin America is booming for Netflix
Things are looking up for Mexico. In 2015, for the first time in several years, the country is hosting a high-impact foreign film production, while TV series from Netflix, Sony and Telemundo have kept rolling along in 2014.
At the box office, it was a flat year for Mexico, but Latin America in general experienced a slow month in June when World Cup matches kept potential moviegoers at home. Mexico's passion for soccer simply proved too much.
Last but certainly not least, as awards season talk heats up, it has been becoming clear that 2014 was another extraordinary year for Mexican talent, so don't be surprised if you hear upcoming awards speeches peppered with a little Spanish.
Here is THR's look at the big entertainment industry stories of 2014 in Mexico:
Bond Film 'Spectre' to Shoot in Mexico
Mexico used to host about three high-profile Hollywood film productions each year, but it's been slow-going in recent years.
It's partly an image problem as news travels abroad about Mexico's drug-related violence. But good news came in December when it was revealed that the country has been selected as one of several international locations for the latest Bond film, Spectre.
During 2014, Mexico also hosted the Point Break remake and Sicario (featuring Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin), so things may finally be turning around for the country as a location for foreign productions.
Narco Dramas Are the Hot Ticket
It seems like everyone is hopping on the narco series bandwagon these days. Sony Pictures Television (the producer behind Metastasis, the Spanish-language version of Breaking Bad) is co-producing Senorita Polvora, a real-life story about a beauty queen who falls for a mafia hitman, in Mexico.
USA drama pilot Queen of the South, which centers on a woman who heads a drug-trafficking ring, is also shooting in Mexico in 2015.
And Telemundo and Mexican indie producer Argos are producing a third season of El Senor de los Cielos (The Lord of the Skies), a telenovela about one of Mexico's most feared drug lords. And that's just to mention some of the narco-themed productions.
Fox Mexico Sets Box-Office Record During Challenging Year
It was a flat year at Mexico's box office, but not for 20th Century Fox, which grossed about 2.3 billion pesos (about $156 million) and set a new company record for single-year earnings.
Overall, movie attendance in Mexico dropped due to competition from World Cup soccer games in June, but Fox managed to finish the year with four films in Mexico's top 10 (Rio 2, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men: Days of Future Past, How to Train Your Dragon 2).
Mexican Filmmakers Demand Justice for Missing Students
Mexicans have grown fed up with a drug war that has left an estimated 80,000 people dead since 2006.
The most recent incident, in which 43 students in the Southern Mexico town of Iguala were kidnapped by police, handed over to a drug gang and most likely massacred, has grabbed international headlines. So, at a MoMA film benefit in November, Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim) read a statement co-signed by Academy Award winner Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman) demanding justice for the victims and their families.
"We believe that these crimes are systemic and indicate a much greater evil: the blurred lines between organized crime and the high-ranking officials in the Mexican government," the directors said.
Business is Booming For Netflix in Mexico and Latin America
On a recent visit to Mexico, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that after three years in Latin America, the streaming service has captured more than 5 million subscribers, bringing its worldwide subscriber base to about 53 million.
In Mexico, Netflix corners about 75 percent of the market, according to the Mexican Film Institute. Netflix also began production in 2014 on two original Spanish-language series: the drug cartel drama Narcos, shot in Colombia, and Los Escorpiones, a soccer-themed comedy set in Mexico.
Mexican Talent in Oscar Conversation, Again
For the second straight year, a Mexican director is likely to land an Oscar nomination.
Last year, Alfonso Cuaron won the best director Academy Award for space thriller Gravity. This time around Cuaron's buddy Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is seen as a favorite to land a nomination for the critically acclaimed dark comedy Birdman.
Another Mexican, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, will possibly get a chance of winning back-to-back Oscars for Gravity and Birdman. Also with a shot at an Oscar nomination is Jorge R. Gutierrez, director of the Guillermo del Toro-produced animation film The Book of Life.