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Mexico's 'Instructions Not Included' a Huge Hit in US

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September 20, 2013
Mexican actor Eugenio Derbezís low-budget movie, 'Instructions Not Included,' hasn't even been seen in his own country yet, but has already opened in US theaters and has grossed more than $26 million to date.

Mexico's unexpected Hollywood star actor and director Eugenio Derbezís latest movie hasnít even debuted in Mexican cinemas yet but he's all over the newspapers.

Thatís because Derbezís low-budget movie, "Instructions Not Included," is a crossover bilingual hit and has already opened in US 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. Itís now being shown in 933 theaters and is ranked 6th over the past week. Itís already surpassed the gross of the last Mexican hit, 1989's "Like Water for Chocolate."

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 last Sunday's magazine: "Few believed that heíd ever have a hit movie. They said his projects were too ĎTelevisaí and that his name didnít belong on movie marquees."

The movie has a different name in Spanish, No Se Aceptan Devoluciones, which translates as "Returns Not Accepted." It doesnít open in Mexico until today.

The movie is about a playboy from Acapulco who suddenly finds himself saddled with a young daughter he never knew he fathered after she is 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 Derbezís desperate search to find someone to play the role of his child. He sought a boy but couldnít find a blond, blue-eyed completely bilingual boy. In frustration, he tweeted the requirements for a boy or girl. Thatís 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."

Itís 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 didnít even gross $6 million.

Producers mounted a bilingual advertising campaign for the movie, both on Univision, the giant US Spanish-language television network, and with billboard, radio, and print advertising in English and Spanish.

Between word of mouth and the advertising campaign, it definitely brought results.