'X-mas, Inc.' under Lemon's tree


MEXICO CITY -- Lemon Films, producer of the year's top boxoffice hit here, is developing the Christmas movie "X-mas, Inc." with Warner Bros.' local production arm.

Lemon, founded by brothers Billy and Fernando Rovzar, expects production to begin on the comedy within two months. Fernando Rovzar penned the script and is making his big-screen directorial debut. The producer-turned-helmer wrote and directed several episodes of "13 Fears," a horror series that Lemon produced for Mexican network Televisa.

"X-mas" is a nontraditional holiday film in which the North Pole is melting and Santa Claus is a victim of capitalist exploitation as he struggles to bring Christmas spirit back to life.

Actors Pedro Armendariz and Hector Jimenez are attached to the project.

Unlike in the U.S., holiday movies are a rarity in Mexico, where "X-mas" is set for a December 2008 release. "It's ridiculous that nobody has ever exploited the Christmas genre in Mexico," Billy Rovzar said.

Additionally, Lemon is preparing its most ambitious project to date under the working title "Saving Private Perez." The $6 million action comedy will be filmed in Mexico, the U.S. and Morocco. Beto Gomez, who helmed boxing drama "Pink Punch," wrote the script and will direct.

"Perez" tells the story of a Mexican mob boss who learns that his brother has gone missing in the Iraq War, forcing him and his hit men to go to Iraq on a rescue mission.

For the battle scenes, Lemon plans to use helicopters, tanks and bazookas, seldom seen in Mexican cinema.

The film features a who's who of Mexican talent, including Jose Maria Yazpik, Damian Alcazar, Jaime Camil, Jesus Ochoa and Liz Gallardo.

Filming is slated to begin in June.

Mexico City-based Lemon produced "Kilometer 31" a horror film released this year. The picture grossed about $11.5 million, making it the nation's top grosser of the year.

Lemon is exploring genres that local producers often overlook, such as horror, action and holiday films.

"We are always trying to see what hasn't been done and why it hasn't been done," Rovzar said.