Earlier this year production company Pantelion scored its first major U.S. theatrical hit with the release of Eugenio Derbez' Instructions Not Included, a heartfelt comedy about a father who reconnects with his young daughter. Written, directed, and starring Derbez himself the PG-13 film has grossed close to $35 million playing as a limited release in under 1,000 screens. The success has been overwhelming in all main markets (Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Dallas), becoming not only the highest grossing Spanish-language film in the U.S. but the biggest Mexican film opening weekend ever in Mexico with $11.6 million.
Certainly, the success of the film can be attributed to Derbez' loyal following that knows him from his work in Mexican television and in films like Under the Same Moon. The actor's charismatic image makes him the poster child for Mexican comedy, an asset that prove to strike a chord with Latino audiences both in his home country and in the U.S. Instructions' presentation as a family film and the publicity efforts by the studio behind it, which is in turn backed by Lionsgate and Televisa, worked splendidly to attract their targeted audience and hopefully open up a market that has long been ignored.
Pantelion had two other releases this year so far. Back in May the studio released a historical/ war film entitled Cinco de Mayo: The Battle, which retells the events of the fateful day when the seemingly weaker Mexican army repelled a French invasion in 1862. A film like this was the first of its kind in Mexico in terms of production value and resources employed to produce a work of such magnitude. Starring Mexican star Kuno Becker (Goal!, Goal II) in the role of national hero General Ignacio Zaragoza, the film opened on May 3rd both in Mexico and the U.S.
Read a review for the film HERE
Read an interview with Kuno Becker on the film HERE
Pulling Strings, the other Pantelion release, opened on October 4th and its a bilingual romantic comedy. The film stars Mexican soap opera actor Jaime Camil and comedian Omar Chaparro. The film has clearly benefited from the recent success of Derbez' film and it has become Pantelion's second consecutive hit grossing over $2.5 million so far, a solid number for any film opening in limited release.
It seems like Hollywood is finally trying to fill up the gap by creating content targeted to the vastly underserved Latino market, who ironically is one of the groups who most regularly goes to the movies.
Read more on the subject on Variety's article Hollywood Gets 'Instructions' from Latino Audiences