Actor and director Eugenio Derbez’s latest movie hasn’t even debuted in Mexican cinemas yet but he is all over the newspapers.
That’s because Derbez’s low-budget movie, Instructions Not Included, is a crossover bilingual hit and has already opened in U.S. theaters, grossing more than $26 million to date.
It is on target to becoming one of the 10 highest grossing foreign movies ever in the United States. According to this box office site, it’s now shown in 933 theaters and ranked 6th over the past weekend. It’s already surpassed the gross of the last Mexican hit, Like Water for Chocolate (1989).
Few expected such a feat from Derbez, a longtime comic actor more known for his work for the Televisa network than feature films. This is how El Universal opened a profile of him in its Sunday magazine (behind paywall) yesterday:
“Few believed that he’d ever have a hit movie. They said his projects were too ‘Televisa’ and that his name didn’t belong on movie marquees.”
The movie has a different name in Spanish, ‘No Se Aceptan Devoluciones,’ which translates as Returns Not Accepted. It doesn’t open in Mexico till Sept. 20.
The movie is about a playboy from Acapulco who suddenly finds a young daughter he never knew he fathered dropped in his lap. Father and daughter move to Los Angeles and struggle to get by.
Much of the Mexican press on the movie deals with Derbez’s desperate search to find someone to play the role of his child. He sought a boy but couldn’t find a blond, blue-eyed completely bilingual boy. In frustration, he tweeted the requirements for a boy or girl. That’s when 9-year-old Loreto Peralta showed up. She fit the physical requirements and spoke fluent English from spending summers in the United States.
The Los Angeles Times published a feature on Derbez last week, touching on how “entertainment companies, media outlets and advertising agencies have increasingly devoted resources to capturing a share of the growing Spanish-dominant and bilingual audience.”
It’s been a tough struggle. Even hit actor Will Ferrell, who starred in the 2012 movie Casa de mi Padre, failed to hit the mark. That film didn’t even gross $6 million.
Producers “mounted a bilingual advertising campaign for the movie, both on Univision, the giant U.S. Spanish-language TV network, and with billboard, radio and print advertising in English and Spanish,” the Times report says.
Between word of mouth and the advertising campaign, it definitely brought results.