MORELIA, Mexico – Mexico’s leading international exhibitor Cinepolis, the main backer of the Morelia Int’l Film Fest, is projecting an 18% jump in terms of total admissions on its screens worldwide by the end of 2016, compared to 2015. In Mexico alone, where it has a 65% share of the market, admissions have nearly doubled in the past 10 years, from 157 million in 2005 to 262 million in 2015.
Now ranked as the fourth largest exhibition group in the world in terms of screen count, the company expects to end the year with 4,887 screens in Mexico and 12 other countries. Led by CEO Alejandro Ramirez, Cinepolis is the only international exhibitor present in four continents: North America, South America, Asia and Europe. Asked if the company planned to venture into new territories, Ramirez said: “We’d like to focus on the 13 countries where we already have a presence, consolidate our market.”
In India, Cinepolis has built multiplexes, now totaling 248 screens in 27 cities, over the past five years, in some cases buying existing theaters, according to Cinepolis programming VP Miguel Rivera. The multiplex is a rarity in India where roughly 90% of its estimated 12,000 screens are single screens, he said. In the U.S., Cinepolis introduced a high-end screening experience with 110 screens in 11 Luxury Cinema-branded theatres. The exhibitor recently pacted with Korea’s CJ 4Dplex to install its 4DX system in at least 12 additional Cinepolis sites in the U.S., India, Spain, and across Latin America. 4DX equips theatres with motion-based seating synchronized with over 20 different effects, including vibration, water, wind, snow, lighting and scents.
However, while Mexico may rank fourth in terms of total screen count (6,062) from all local exhibitors combined, the country has one of the lowest-priced of cinema tickets levels worldwide, which adversely impacts total box office revenues.
“Cinema-going has been a popular tradition in Mexico, and raising ticket prices would make our low-income audience turn away and resort to pirated films,” said Ramirez, who points out they have adjusted their ticket prices to each neighborhood.
Cinepolis is also bent on nurturing its fledgling distribution arm, which launched last year with Jonas Cuaron’s “Desierto,” now repping Mexico in the foreign-language Oscar race. Since then it has released a variety of local and international features and docus, including comedy “Un Padre No Tan Padre,” earthquake drama “7:19” and the upcoming “Neruda,” which opened the 14th Morelia Int’l Film Fest.
“We aim to release an average of 15 films a year,” said Ramirez who rules out going into production although it has recently awarded a distribution guarantee and P&A valued at 250,000 pesos ($13,282) to work-in-progress program Impulso Morelia winner Everardo Gonzalez for his striking documentary “La Libertad del Diablo” (a working title), now in post.
Company has released a number of documentaries in a bid to cultivate new audiences, with past releases including “Cartel Land,” Maya Goded’s Impulso 2015 Morelia winner “Plaza de la Soledad” as well as Wim Wenders and Juliano Salgado’s “Salt of the Earth.” Underscoring the company’s support for local talent, it programs Mexican shorts during the itinerant French film fest, Tour de Cine Frances, that visits more than 60 cities in Mexico in the Fall. The Morelia Film Fest is also a major showcase of shorts.