Mexico Box Office 2015: A Record Year Led by Universal Pictures

Avengers: Age of Ultron Hawkeye Still - H 2015
Jay Maidment

Avengers: Age of Ultron Hawkeye Still - H 2015

Business down south was booming for Hollywood, but not so great for local releases.

Mexican cinemas saw yet another record-breaking year with nearly 300 million tickets sold and an estimated 13.9 billion pesos (over $800 million) earned in box-office revenue as of Friday.

It will certainly go down as a banner year for Universal Pictures, which broke Mexico's single-year revenue record, grossing more than 3 billion pesos (more than $170 million) and easily surpassing the previous record held by 20th Century Fox of 2.3 billion pesos. Universal had three releases that finished the year among Mexico's top five earners: Furious 7, Minions and Jurassic World.

Disney also fared well with Mexico's No. 1 box-office hit, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and No. 5, Inside Out. Age of Ultron raked in 784 million pesos (about $45 million). Star Wars: The Forces Awakens debuted on Thursday after breaking Mexico's advance ticket sales record.

All told, box-office receipts rose about 16 percent in Mexico compared to 2014.

Unfortunately, market share for local releases dropped significantly: domestic productions accounted for a mere 5.7 percent of box-office earnings, compared to 9.5 percent in 2014 and 10.9 percent in 2013.

It's not for a lack of homegrown films or screens: Mexico produces about 100 pictures a year and the nationwide screen count is 6,000 and rising, but Hollywood fare gobbles up most of the screen time. The Force Awakens, for instance, opened on some 3,000 screens.

Among the top 10 local releases, Televisa-owned distributor Videocine dominated with six titles on the chart, among those, three of the year's biggest domestic hits: Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos (A Rooster With Many Eggs), El Gran Pequeno (Little Boy) and A La Mala. All three films performed well stateside, too.

Not making the top 10, but perhaps the year's biggest surprise, was the documentary Cartel Land. The limited release grossed more than $700,000 in the U.S. and $190,000 in Mexico, where it bowed with just 23 copies.

The U.S.-Mexico co-production, which focuses on vigilante groups battling Mexico's violent drug gangs, won directing and cinematography awards at Sundance and it's seen as a frontrunner to land an Oscar nomination in the documentary category. Kathryn Bigelow executive produced.

According to the MPAA's most recent report on international box office markets, Mexico ranks No. 10 worldwide in revenue.