It’s no secret that Latinos are some of the most loyal moviegoers in the U.S. Last year, they accounted for 25% of all film tickets sold, according to the Nielsen Co.
And yet in recent years, films aimed at Spanish-speaking audiences have failed to catch on with the demographic. Since being formed in 2010, Pantelion Films -- a joint venture between Lionsgate and Mexico’s Televisa -- has released almost a dozen films meant for Latino moviegoers, but only one grossed over $5 million.
Until this weekend.
Over the Labor Day holiday, Pantelion debuted the comedy “Instructions Not Included” in 347 cinemas and saw stellar results. During its first four days in theaters, the distributor said the film collected $10 million, good enough for fifth place at the long weekend box office. The film’s debut also easily topped Pantelion’s prior biggest success, Will Ferrell’s “Casa de mi Padre,” which made $5.9 million during its entire 2012 run.
“Instructions Not Included” stars Mexican star Eugenio Derbez as a playboy who has to shape up after an ex-girlfriend leaves a baby on his doorstep. Those who saw the picture this weekend loved it, assigning the film a perfect average grade of A-plus, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
Paul Presburger, chief executive of Pantelion, said he believed the popularity of Derbez -- who also directed and co-wrote the film -- was the main reason moviegoers flocked to the multiplex this weekend.
“This is the biggest star you’ve never heard of,” Presburger said. “He’s beloved in Mexico, but also beloved here with the Latino audience. People say he’s like Jim Carrey because he’s a physical actor.”
Derbez, 50, is currently working on a Mexican version of “Saturday Night Live,” and for a decade starred on the Mexican sitcom “La familia P. Luche,” which was syndicated on Univision.
Next weekend, Pantelion will expand “Instructions Not Included” to roughly 500 locations.