Instructions Not Included trailer: why you’ve probably never heard of this hit movie

I have a vague impression of having caught a whisper of this movie somewhere, but I never received a press release about it, nor a screening invitation. (I’m still on U.S. press lists, so I should have heard something.) It has only five reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which suggests it has simply been almost entirely off the radar of film critics.

And yet, though it was playing in only 348 theaters in North America over its Labor Day weekend debut, it earned more than $10 million over those four days, making it the second highest-earning new release of the weekend, and No. 5 overall.

Friends in New York reported huge lines for this (almost) unknown film over the weekend, and Reuters says (via The New York Times) that this is “ a record for a Spanish film in the United States.”

Hollywood regularly ignores entire sectors of the audience that aren’t young and male, so this is hardly surprising. Maybe this will change? From Reuters:

Pantelion, whose formation was announced in announced 2010 by Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer and Grupo Televisa CEO Emilio Azcarraga, intends to produce eight to 10 films a year aimed at the Hispanic market in the United States and Mexico, in an effort to duplicate the success Lionsgate has with the African American market through films it distributes for Tyler Perry.

But really, all the studios should be doing the same. Perry’s films and this one cost next to nothing to make — Instructions has a reported budget of only $5 million, which it has already earned back twice. It doesn’t even matter if the films are crap (Instructions does not look particularly good), because when an audience is so under-served that it is starving for entertainment, it will turn out in droves.

Not that I want Hollywood to make more crappy movies, of course. I just wish it were more ecumenical in its distribution of crap.

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