In the movie Instructions Not Included, Valentin is Acapulco’s resident playboy, until a former fling leaves a baby on his doorstep and takes off without a trace. Leaving Mexico for Los Angeles to find the baby’s mother, Valentin ends up finding a new home for himself and his newfound daughter, Maggie. An unlikely father figure, Valentin raises Maggie for six years, while also establishing himself as one of Hollywood’s top stuntmen to pay the bills, with Maggie acting as his on-set coach. As Valentin raises Maggie, she forces him to grow up too. But their unique and offbeat family is threatened when Maggie’s birth mom shows up out of the blue, and Valentin realizes he’s in danger of losing his daughter – and his best friend.
Instructions Not Included, with Eugenio Derbez as actor, director and one of the writers, has turned in the biggest Spanish-language movie ever in North America.
It took in over $10 million at the movie box office, during its first three days in theaters, in only 350 theaters, competing with blockbusters such as “The Butler” and Disney’s “Planes,” each that were shown in 10 times as many theaters.
Instructions Not Included grabbed $30,000 from each of the 350 theaters on opening weekend and took the #5 spot, overall, at the U.S. movie box office, while the #1 movie of the same weekend, The Butler, earned $20 million from 3350 theaters and took in only $6,000 per theater.
Even when the movie did not get the Hollywood PR treatment (no critics movie screenings for writers of English language newspapers, no promotional screenings or advertising on English language TV stations) and relied mostly on Derbez’s social media influence for promotion, it sold out almost every showing at every theater in which it played in America.
The film’s distributor is Pantelion Films, a joint venture of Lions Gate and Mexican media giant Televisa that is tapping into the fast-growing Hispanic population, which accounts for a quarter of frequent moviegoers in the United States.
Eugenio Derbez thought of the movie as his crossover to “conquer the Anglo market,” even though it’s mostly in Spanish.
His face may not be as well-known in the U.S., playing only small roles alongside Adam Sandler in “Jack and Jill” and appearing in the one-season TV sitcom “Rob.” But unlike Salma Hayek, whose career really took off in Hollywood, Eugenio Derbez is already a big star in Latin America and with Latinos living in the United States.
The versatile comedian has turned his characters’ expressions into everyday sayings in Mexico. He has played an ugly monk who picks his nose, a hairy-chested Snow White and the patriarch of a plush-wearing family.
Instructions Not Included received an “A+” CinemaScore, one of only a few films to do so since CinemaScore was launched a decade ago, one of the others being The Blind Side.
UPDATE: September 29, 2013 – Instructions Not Included today becomes the highest grossing Spanish language film ever released in the United States. With this weekend’s gross of $3.38 million, the breakout family comedy/drama has taken in a total of $39 million during its five weeks at the U.S. movie box office. The movie passed Pan’s Labyrinth’s $37.6 million as the new record holder. It’s also the 4th biggest grossing foreign language film ever in the U.S., behind only Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Taiwan), Life is Beautiful (Italy), and Hero (China).
Word of mouth spread due to its ‘A+’ CinemaScore, and Instructions Not Included expanded its U.S. run to target crossover audiences. Made for a $5 million budget and acquired by Pantelion/Lionsgate, it was the big story coming out of Labor Day Weekend for the best-ever domestic debut for a Spanish language film.