How Mexican Comedian Eugenio Derbez delivered the Latino box office hit Hollywood couldn’t

There was nothing conventional about the way comedian Eugenio Derbez went about promoting his unexpected box office hit this weekend, Instructions Not Included.  Or No se aceptan devoluciones in the Mexican entertainer’s native Spanish, which coincidentally is also the primary language of the film.

Despite having been released in only 347 theaters nationwide, compared to 2,735 theaters for One Direction: This is Us, Instructions Not Included brought in almost four times more revenue than the One Direction film per theater.  That is to say the average box office take in for Instructions was $22,594 while the average for One Direction was $5,777 (through Sunday).  Although total revenue for One Direction ($18 million) did exceed the $10 million earned by Derbez’s directorial debut.

What I find interesting though is just how Derbez went about making this happen by leveraging his bicultural, bilingual and multigenerational appeal.  Rather than hitting the more obvious and much more glamorous Hollywood talk show circuit (in English), Derbez connected with his established fan base through shows like Despierta América and Don Francisco, reminding us over and over again in his signature humor why we should watch this film and support him.  The film itself was reportedly a passion project for Derbez 10 years in the making.  He not only acted in the lead role, he directed the film and shares writing credits for Instructions.  His wife is also in the film.

For Derbez there has been no talk about a crossover either.  He hasn’t made one.  He isn’t making one.  And he doesn’t need to.  That in it of itself speaks volumes of how different the entertainment landscape is for Latinos today as opposed to what it was like even just 10 years ago.  The words “Latin boom in entertainment” don’t even mean anything to me anymore.

At the theater we went to watch Instructions Not Included on Friday, entire families, from infants to los abuelos were laughing and enjoying the film together.  In a way it was like watching a little bit of ourselves because the cultural and language nuances were on point and appropriate, not cliche as is so often the case in other Latino films.  Derbez gets us and understands what it is to be bilingual and bicultural and it showed in the minutest details of his film, from the funny banter about nothing to the choice of Mexican slang and it’s placement in the script.

I can’t think of another artist who can genuinely and effortlessly entertain such a cross section of our culture and community so well.  The box office results mean something.

That we are hungry for entertainment that speaks to us, but above all else, that is genuine and honest to who we are as a community and as a people.

Here’s to more hits from Derbez and others like him who get us at the box office.  And Hollywood, ¡ya hombre! get with the program, no more limited releases for our films!

15 thoughts on “How Mexican Comedian Eugenio Derbez delivered the Latino box office hit Hollywood couldn’t

    1. Couldn’t agree more. It’s about time the diversity of Latino talent in the entertainment industry across the board gets expanded to include a more reflective vision of our enormous and diverse communities and cultures. That goes for Spanish-language media companies also.

  1. I love Sr. Derbez!! He is one of my IDOLS!! So proud to be LATINO right about now. He has so much talent, he was also in “Under the Same Moon” with Kate del Castillo in which he was a bad guy turned awesome, if you have’nt seen it, its a must!! Arriba los que tienen la capacidad OSEA lost LATINOS! Jaja, Im a bit biased.

    1. He was excellent in that movie and also in Girl Interrupted. Honestly, I didn’t even know he had in him. It’s been a very pleasant surprise to see all of Derbez’s talent flourish.

  2. Who needs Hollywood to take notice when we can take notice of good talent and good content?

    Diego Luna has said, “we need to vote with our movie ticket purchase” to let Hollywood know what we like and what we do not. That’s what is going to make a difference.

    Let’s don’t be passive and wait for Hollywood to change. We’re making the change by supporting what we deserve.

  3. I am a producer for the Ryan Seacrest radio show and we have always understood the importance and voice of our community.

    Having Mr. Derbez on our show was never a question…

    Great. Great article!

    1. Thanks for stopping by the blog, and for interviewing Derbez on the Ryan Seacrest show! Glad to hear we’re on the same page on the place of culture and identity in entertainment!

  4. I absolutely LOVE Eugenio Derbez! He makes me pee in my pants with his comedy and wittiness. I haven’t seen this movie but will definitely make it out to see it.

    Aside from the film, What surprises me is that people still think, and use, “multicultural” and “Latino” representing Mexican or Mexican living in america, or “Mexican American” … but Latin America expands from Mexico all the way to Argentina, including islands like puerto rico, dominican republic Cuba, and the such.

    I see comments from people saying that The movie speaks to them, representing themselves as the whole latino community, but its inly the mexican community. After 23 years if living in this country there has been a BOOM of Latin American immigrants from south and Central America who miss their very essence and no matter how much they can laugh at this film, it does not relate to them at all.
    Now I’m NOT bagging on this film, I don’t bag on any films, I just think we, me included, need to think outside the box. I’m glad about other comments seeing that this film portrays Latinos as who they really are and not as how Hollywood wants us to be. I hope he NEVER goes Hollywood, they’ll just control him and distort our Latino image over and over.

    There’s a film in the making called: “Sol Detente” Sun Stop, that talks about identity. The story is about a Mexican and a Peruvian, and all if their friends from different parts of Latin America who struggle to make it, not only financially, but in this misunderstood society! It will speak some harsh truths!

    Anyways! My two cents!

    1. Can’t say that I agree about the word Latino meaning more Mexican than any other Latin American country, but I do agree that Latino includes not only mexicanos, but also paisas from all of Latin America. Thanks for the heads up on the new film. If it tells Latino stories in a genuine and honest way, the way Derbez’s film does, I will gladly stand behind this or any other film!

    1. Hey Michelle, that’s because the movie is still in theaters. Judging by the success it’s had so far it may be a while before you find it for rent. Check local listings instead.

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