Legal Modernization Key Step for Mexican CinemaSat, 12/01/2018 - 15:09
Q: In some countries, the law imposes a national content share on cinemas. How does this model work in Mexico?
A: In Mexico, cinemas are supposed to reserve 10 percent of their screen share for national movies but this is not clearly defined. The law needs to be more precise and ensure that exhibitors deliver 10 percent of screen time at all cinemas on every day of the year to national movies. The important element is time on screen, not just the number of movies premiered. The law needs to be clear so everyone understands it refers to 10 percent of total screening time.
The Mexican Academy of Film Arts and Sciences has been working for the past five years to define what should be done about it. We have created a document in which we deliver our recommendations, including a modification of the Federal Law of Cinematography. We need a global law that covers all audiovisual materials, not just cinema. The modification of certain articles in the law would give cinemas a clearer idea of how to demarcate their screen time to Mexican productions. We believe that Mexican movies should be guaranteed at least a two-week run in theaters so they can find their public. It is important to note that some movies have their own niche, they are not all mass-marketed. On average, a blockbuster film occupies between 70 and 80 percent of screens, which prevents plurality and diversity.
The government also needs to work on creating a global audiovisual ecosystem where cinema and public TV work together. Countries like France have established similar systems where cinema and audiovisual industries are considered a strategic activity for the country. This system ensures that around 5 percent of public TV advertising revenue is allocated to the production of national and independent films. Another proposal is to provide incentives to movie theaters that surpass the 10 percent quota and achieve 35 percent. Such incentives would motivate others to follow suit. This is how audiences are created.
Q: What elements should a new law for film and audiovisuals include?
A: The current law is almost 20 years old and in my opinion is obsolete and cannot regulate the market. The country needs a new law that should be developed transversally. We have to understand that this industry also has an impact on the economy, tourism, foreign relations, employment, economic competition and culture.
In terms of ticket sales, Mexico is the fourth-largest market in the world. We are the 11th-largest economy when it comes to cinema revenue, the second-largest in terms of Netflix subscriptions and we consume per capita a larger universe of audiovisual content than other countries. The difficulty we face is that the overall population’s purchasing power is not high enough to access these entertainment options. That is why we insist on the need to change the model. The arrival of a new federal administration provides a great opportunity to implement this change. It is important to prioritize national content.
Q: What are Alebrije Producciones’ main funding sources and how can the industry attract greater investments from funds or private investors?
A: Unfortunately, in Mexico, experience is not rewarded. In the same way that we need to allow the development of new talent, we must also allow experience to consolidate. We have been fortunate that over 20 years, Alebrije Producciones has gained legitimacy. Some of our teams have been very popular, we have received recognition from the academy and we have made movies that have had an impact at foreign festivals. This legitimacy is attractive to the different investment funds that want to collaborate with us. Having a good record, guaranteeing the investment of those that participate with us and transparency in resource management has allowed us to obtain a good reputation and to solidify our position.