Mexican filmmakers spice up the menu

Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:51am EDT
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By John Hecht

MEXICO CITY (Hollywood Reporter) - As film production surges in Mexico, once-endangered genres like sci-fi, horror and animation are making a spirited comeback. Call it a sign of the times, or a cinematic renaissance if you will, as talented young filmmakers here eagerly explore new terrain.

For many years, there was a strong tendency in Mexican cinema to produce less-than-stellar imitations of box office hits like Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Amores Perros" and Alfonso Cuaron's "Y tu Mama Tambien."

But as time moved on, audiences grew thirsty for more diversity, forcing producers to mine stories that would offer something beyond the tired urban dramas and comedies.

"After 'Amores Perros,' everyone thought that was the way to make movies in Mexico," says Lemon Films producer Billy Rovzar. "The problem was that people stopped thinking that we can make other genres."

Not everyone. Last year, the Lemon-produced horror film "Kilometer 31" raked in about $11 million, making it one of Mexico's all-time box office leaders. With a few exceptions (namely Guillermo del Toro projects), the genre had been all but ignored here for nearly two decades. Last year, however, three horror flicks ranked among the top 10 domestic grossers.

Animated films are also riding the new wave of Mexican cinema. "Una Pelicula de Huevos," a story about a young egg aspiring to hatch into a rooster before he becomes someone's breakfast, was Mexico's top box office earner in 2006. And last year, the Day of the Dead-themed "La Leyenda de la Nahuala" grabbed the No. 4 spot.

Several toons are in production, including a sequel to "Huevos," titled "Otra Pelicula de Huevos y un Pollo," and "Ana," a 3-D animated feature from Carlos Carerra and "Shrek 2" animator Enrique Navarette.

Thanks to the success of animation and horror, producers are scrambling to exploit untapped genres. Lemon, for instance, is producing the $6 million action film "Saving Private Perez" and the holiday movie "X-mas, Inc."   Continued...