“Instructions Not Included” has made close to $27 million dollars in domestic sales as of this weekend. Now entering its third week in theaters, the film continues to break box-office records for a Spanish-language film in the U.S.--and it will undoubtedly make millions more when it opens in Latin America.
The film’s director, writer and star Eugenio Derbez is being compared to Tyler Perry, with some dubbing him the “Latino Tyler Perry” because both filmmakers share some cinematic-style similarities and both write, produce, direct and star in their own films.
And now with the success of “Instructions Not Included,” both directors can take a relatively low-budget film and turn out an extraordinary profit.
“It took me 12 years to complete the film,” Derbez told Fusion. “Especially for raising the money because it's truly an expensive film for Mexico.”
“It was a $5.5 million dollar film and the average for a Mexican film is $2.5 million dollars, so it was really hard to raise the money,” Derbez said.
Pantelion Films, the studio that released “Instructions Not Included,” insists the film is about a father’s love for his daughter. But it’s also about a Mexican man’s experience coming to the U.S. and the storyline includes many references to a new immigrant trying to survive in a world in which he doesn’t have the proper authorization to enter the country legally and doesn’t understand the language.
The success of the film has everything to do with the culmination of all those elements brought together by a Derbez, a seasoned Mexican comedian with a loyal following.
Undocumented immigrants and Latinos in general don’t see too many representations of themselves on screen and Derbez’s character in “Instructions Not Included” is a positive comedic representation of an average looking Mexican man who goes on to have a successful (and lucrative) career in Hollywood. The film also comes at a time when the country is in immigration reform talks and in era where undocumented immigrants have been criminalized and vilified in states like Arizona.
“The success of the film comes at a watershed moment in recent American history, the U.S. is reacting politically and culturally to a demographic shift,” said William A. Nericcio, professor of English and Latin American studies at San Diego State University.
Nericcio says evidence of this is the “rabid outbreak across the United States in popular right-wing media against Mexicans and undocumented workers” that came after Latinos helped elect President Obama in 2008.
Derbez’s film totally went against that anti-immigrant narrative and the success of the film points to how hungry people were to see representations of themselves on screen.
The Tyler Perry Comparison Derbez, 52, is known for his comedic work that spans across two decades and over-the-top telenovela like topsy-turvy film includes lots of comedy and slapstick heavy scenes.
English-language entertainment industry publications have called Derbez the “Latino Tyler Perry” because of some of his exaggerated characters and storylines. And also because Derbez has has had a long career and a loyal following that will follow him all the way to theater box offices.
Derbez doesn’t agree with the comparisons to Perry.