Netflix to Produce 50 Projects in Mexico

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Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos

After the wide success of productions set in the country, such as the Oscar-nominated 'Roma' and the crime series 'Narcos,' the streaming giant is making a huge push to ramp up content in Latin America's top market.

Netflix is expanding big time in Mexico, where it is set to produce 50 TV shows and films over the next two years.

In terms of sheer production volume, that makes the country Netflix's top international territory.

"To give you a sense of the scale and scope of this, we announced a few months ago that in the same kind of time frame we will have 30 original shows in India, so Mexico is our most in any one territory," content chief Ted Sarandos told The Hollywood Reporter.

At a Tuesday forum hosted by Narcos: Mexico star Diego Luna, Sarandos announced that Netflix will soon open an office in Mexico City to coordinate development and production activities for new and future projects.

Among the original shows and co-productions in the pipeline are Como caido del cielo, a musical comedy inspired by the legendary Mexican singer Pedro Infante and starring Omar Chaparro (Overboard); Se busca papa, a family film made in co-production with Corazon Films; Ahi te encargo, a rom-com co-written by Nosotros los nobles producer Leo Zimbron; and Rio Grande, Rio Bravo, a documentary project executive produced by Gael Garcia Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle).

Netflix productions set to shoot this year include a biopic about Tejano music icon Selena and American Jesus, based on a comic by Mark Millar.

Why is Mexico a priority for Netflix? It is where the company first started producing non-English original programming when it expanded internationally to Latin America in 2011, and the country is the furthest along in the region with respect to production and viewership.

News of the production increase comes just weeks ahead of the Academy Awards, where the Netflix-backed, Mexico-set memoir film Roma is seen as a front-runner for top awards. Sarandos said Netflix would love to work with Roma director Alfonso Cuaron once again, and the company is currently involved in several animated projects with Cuaron's longtime pal Guillermo del Toro, including a Pinocchio reboot. The California-based streamer also has been in talks with Alejandro G. Inarritu, a close friend and collaborator of both Cuaron and del Toro.

Roma, Cuaron's semiautobiograpical movie, continues to play in more than 1,100 independent cinemas around the world and remains available on the streaming platform. Major cinema chains refused to screen it because Netflix does not abide by the traditional 90-day window between theatrical and SVOD releases. There would, however, be another opportunity to release the picture in commercial theaters should Roma win a best picture Oscar.

Said Sarandos, "It will be interesting to see if the theater chains change their minds after the Oscars."