Universal, WB ink Mexico deal

Videocine will cease distribution of WB films in Jan.

MEXICO CITY -- Universal Pictures International on Thursday said it has inked a deal to handle theatrical releases of Warner Bros. film titles in Mexico beginning next year.

Warner Bros. releases in Mexico currently are distributed by Videocine, the film distribution arm of Mexican media giant Televisa. With the new agreement in place, Warner Bros. will terminate its alliance with Videocine come January.

Redo Farah, vp of distribution and marketing for Warner Bros. Pictures in Latin America, said the deal creates the opportunity for Warner to better position its pictures in Mexico, Latin America's top market in terms of boxoffice revenue.

"We have had many successful relationships with other studios that distribute (our films) in different parts of the world, and we're certain that this alliance with Universal Pictures in Mexico will also be successful," he said.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A source close to Universal said there are plans to create a separate marketing team dedicated to Warner Bros. films within Universal's Mexico office. With Warner Bros. out of the picture, Videocine may be forced to re-evaluate its structure as an indie distributor, the source added.

Mauricio Duran, vp of distribution and marketing at Universal Pictures International in Latin American, said the agreement allows both companies to "maximize results" in the Mexican market.

Warner's "The Dark Knight" was the highest-grossing film here last year, according to the National Film Chamber.