The good news: The number of U.S. Latino and Latin American films theatrically released in the United Stated has increased in the past few years. In 2012 over 30 films were released in theaters in this country.
The bad news: The box office numbers don’t correspond with the increase of film releases. Most of the Latino film releases are limited one-week engagements either in New York City or Los Angeles, in other few instances on both. Few films are the ones that have access to larger nationwide releases, thus their impact at the box office is slim.
The top three highest grossing Latino films of 2012, the only ones that were able to break the one million mark, were movies with high-profile actors: For Greater Glory starring Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria and Ruben Blade was an epic take on the Mexican historic episode known as the ‘Cristero War.' Casa de mi Padre, a Spanish-language comedy about the Alvarez brothers (played by Will Ferrell -speaking Spanish and Diego Luna), who scheming on a way to save their father's ranch, find themselves in a war with Mexico's most feared drug lord (played by Gael García Bernal). Patricia Riggen’s Girl in Progress is a coming-of-age story starring Eva Mendes, Matthew Modine, Patricia Arquette and Eugenio Derbez.
The most successful distribution company was Pantalion Films as the three films they released during the year made it to the top five list. Sleeper hits of the year include the Spanish-British animated film Chico & Rita by Fernando Trueba which was nominated for an Academy Award and was the first film released by GKids (an offspring of the New York International Children's Film Festival), the music documentary Hecho en México, and the Brazilian debut feature film Neighboring Sounds by Kleber Mendonça Filho, released in the U.S. by Cinema Guild, which was the Latin American film that was most mentioned in the top best lists of the year.
Other 2012 theatrical releases for which no box-office numbers were reported include El Velador: The Night Watchman (Icarus Films), Heleno (Screen Media), Paraísos artificiales / Artificial Paradises (Cinema Tropical/Interior 13) and Lula, son of Brazil (New Yorker Films).
Complete list of top grossing Latino films of 2012:
- Casa de mi Padre (Pantelion Films), $5,909,483
- For Greater Glory (ARC Entertainment), $5,669,081
- Girl in Progress (Pantelion Films), $2,609,412
- Chico & Rita (GKids) $197,785
- Hecho en México (Pantelion Films), $151,133
- On the Road (IFC Films), $69,885*
- Neighboring Sounds / O som ao redor (Cinema Guild), $47,974
- Ballplayer: Pelotero (Strand Releasing), $44,689
- Granito: How to Nail a Dictator (International Film Circuit), $43,942
- Miss Bala (Fox International), $40,540
- Hermano (Music Box Films), $29,864
- Juan of the Dead / Juan de los muertos (Outsider Pictures) $18,000
- Found Memories / Historias que so existem quando lembradas (Film Movement), $10,575
- Post Mortem (Kino Lorber Films), $9,750
- Mosquita y Mari (The Film Collaborative) $8,614
- Letters to Elena / Cartas a Elena (Freestyle Releasing), $8,511
- Bel Borba Aqui (Abramorama), $7,426
- Las Acacias (Outsider Pictures), $6,000
- Young & Wild / Joven y alocada (IFC Films), $5,514