By Indiewire | Indiewire April 9, 2002 at 2:0AM
DAILY NEWS: "Y Tu Mama" Hits It Big; Method Fest Plans
with articles by Eugene Hernandez and Brian Brooks/indieWIRE
>> Big Weekend for IFC Films and "Y Tu Mama Tambien"; Spanish-Language Movie Approaching $3 Million at the Box Office, Fueled by Latino Audience
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(indieWIRE/04.09.02) -- Whispers and rumors within industry circles
predicted the downfall of IFC Films at the end of last year as speculation
saw parent Cablevision losing patience with the venture. Whether true or
not, it could be simply said this spring that the upstart distributor (which
launched in late 2000) needed a hit. Well, now it has one.
IFC Films has released a number of critically acclaimed pictures, but none
have caught on quite like "Y Tu Mama Tambien." The sexy, Spanish-language
road movie grossed nearly $1.2 million as it expanded this past weekend,
hitting nearly $3 million at the box office in less than a month. The film
expanded to more than 180 screens over the weekend, a big jump from 51 the
week before, giving it a per-screen take of more than $6,500. It cracked the
top 20 among all films, landing at number 17, above the IFC Production
"Monsoon Wedding" from USA Films, which passed the $5 million mark this weekend.
"When you have a film like 'Y Tu Mama Tambien' doing this well and cracking
into the top 20, amidst big budget studio films in English, that is a rather
amazing accomplishment," offered Paul Derbarabedian, President of Los
Angeles-based box office tracking firm, Exhibitor Relations. He added that
the picture is flourishing even at a time when there is a lot of competition
in the marketplace. "'Y Tu Mama' is doing well in a sea of films that are
doing very well, which makes it even more impressive." The film has nearly
earned as much as all of IFC Films' ten previous releases combined.
"This really puts us on the map," IFC Senior Vice President of Marketing &
Distribution Bob Berney told indieWIRE yesterday after reporting the
weekend's stellar box-office grosses. "Not only the numbers but the campaign
-- this is really good for the company, it starts gelling in people's minds
who we are and how we are connected to (Cablevision)."
Variety's Peter Bart made the link, touting the success of the un-rated film
and predicting that the picture would go on to earn $15 million. "The film
scared the hell out of most of its viewers," wrote Bart in his weekly
column, echoing the concerns of distributions execs who were turned away by
the movie's racy parts.
Of course, the success of "Y Tu Mama" has less to do with its lack of a
rating. The achievement of Berney and his team comes from their ability to
recognize that the film had a very large potential audience. They are
aggressively marketing the picture beyond the traditional arthouse audience,
to Latino moviegoers. "Its really great to see a crossover audience," Berney
"We are very lucky to have a brilliant film ... to show that there is a
market theatrically for Latino film," Berney explained yesterday. He added
that while there was no real model for his group to follow in releasing the
movie, he has considered the success that Lions Gate had last year with
"Amores Perros." That Mexican film grossed more than $5 million.
"Its really great to see a crossover audience -- 'Amores Perros' opened a
door and I think that we were able to push it a little further."
This film will certainly surpass the box-office success of "Perros." Among
the markets where the film is finding success are Chicago and California's
Bay Area. In Chicago the film opened in 16 theaters this weekend, as
opposed to a traditional single screen arthouse debut. IFC Films is cashing
in on the large Latino population in the midwestern city and still making
money in the specialty market. Likewise it is scoring in San Francisco,
Houston, Dallas, Austin (where it debuted), and San Jose, Texas.
In its growing markets, Berney and company are relying on a mixture of PR
and marketing. Director Alfonso Cuaron and stars Gael Garcia Bernal and
Diego Luna embarked on a publicity tour to promote the release, while IFC
Films bought TV and radio ads and at the same time pursued a grassroots
strategy with stickers, posters and postcards. For Spanish-speaking areas,
they used the same TV and radio spots that were used in the successful
Mexican release of the movie. No doubt word of mouth from relatives also
helped create buzz for those with family back in Mexico.
On April 19, "Y Tu Mama Tambien" will expand again; Berney says that the
film could top out at about 400 prints. "Our sense is that this film is
staying," he offered. He added that now in its fourth week in Los Angeles
and New York the film is maintaining solid business and even increasing in
some venues where the audience mix at arthouses, such as the Laemmle theater
in Pasadena, has proven to attract audiences that are up to 50 percent
As mentioned, the news comes at a good time for fledgling IFC Films. While
Berney downplayed corporate pressures to find a hit, he did offer, "Anytime
you start up a company, everyone wants (success) quickly -- I think
this is pretty quick."
"Like everything else it's a business and people want to win," he concluded.
"Not only is this a hit, but it's a really good movie made by a really
wonderful, nice guy," he added, "This is the classic business and art
combination." [Eugene Hernandez]
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INTERVIEW: Not Another Teen Movie: Alfonso Cuaron on Truth, Style and "Y Tu
>> 4th Method Fest Again Spotlights the Actor
(indieWIRE/04.09.02) -- Pasadena, California's Method Fest, which prides
itself for being the only film festival in America that puts its focus on
the actor as the key focus to successful independent filmmaking, will kick
off its fourth annual event April 12 with the world premiere of "Man of
the Year," starring John Ritter, at the Laemmle Playhouse 7. The slate of
screenings for the week-long event include more than 55 features and shorts
in addition to acting and filmmaking seminars and panels, galas, and
Renowned acting instructors Lorrie Hull-Smithers, Joanne Baron, DW Brown, and Lisa Dalton will lead a seminar on "An Exploration of Method Acting Styles." Other themes organized by the festival which are scheduled to take
place April 13 and 14 at Travis Auditorium at Fuller College include "The
Casting Process," a "Method Acting Workshop," as well as "Script Analysis,"
among others. Also, Method will continue its trademark "Indie Music Night"
on Saturday evening with acoustic performances by folk, blues and rock
artists at the Catalyst Cafe at Fuller Seminary. The fest's centerpiece
film on April 14 is "Sunday," and the closing film on April 18 is
David Cunningham's drama "To End All Wars," starring Kiefer Sutherland and Robert Carlyle.
"Our festival is focused on the films, but there is much more we have to
offer people attending the event," said Method Fest executive director Don
Franken in a prepared statement. "We have increased the number and quality
of the acting and filmmaking workshops." The event is named after "The
Method" school of acting, which has trained such actors as Robert De Niro,
Meryl Streep, and Dustin Hoffman. [Brian Brooks]