Hard times and a string of box office disappointments has led topMexican production house Altavista Films (producer of Amores Perros) and sister regional distributioncompany NuVision to streamline operations.

CEO Monica Lozano who reports toFederico Gonzalez Compean, the head of their parent company Estudio MexicoFilms, is now in charge of both companies. However, NuVision has not given upthe idea of tapping the US Hispanic market via a partnership and is currentlyin talks with local and US-based companies.

"The market conditions in Mexico and Latin America could notsupport our original infrastructure," said Lozano. NuVision had been buyingfilms for the entire region but dire political and economic conditions interritories led by Argentina and Brazil had been affecting its bottom line. "Weare aiming to distribute titles mainly in Mexico and eventually, the lucrativeUS Hispanic market," she said. "We will pick and choose other territories inLatin America where our local distribution partnerships will remain in place,"she added.

NuVision's original acquisitions budget of $8m remains intact and itstill aims to release up to 25 titles a year. In January, it released My BigFat Greek Wedding whichhas made $7.3m from 2.3 million admissions to date. Other pending titles are TheButterfly Effect and TheDancer Upstairs. Whilepast Altavista titles have underperformed, Fernando Sarinana's Amar Te Duele, released in November 2002, made $7.4mfrom 2.3 million admissions.

Most of Altavista's 15 staff members have been laid off. They noweither work for the company on a per project basis or have found employmentelsewhere. With some considerable financing invested in the development ofabout 25 projects, the company cannot afford to pull the plug. It will aim toproduce two to three titles a year by farming out the projects to formerproduction staff and other independent producers. It aims to co produce morefilms with Televisa film arm, Videocine, which has been providing the physicaldistribution of NuVision pick-ups and Altavista titles.

Former Altavista director general Francisco Gonzalez Compean (the brother of Federico) hasformed his own indie production company, Draco Films but oversees selectprojects from Altavista's development pipeline including thrillers Amapola and Los Capos Del Norte.

Former production executive Martha Sosa teamed up with producer LauraImperiale to form Cacerola Films which is in post for a hot upcoming title Nicotina:Dead If You Do, Dead If You Don't, a co production with Videocine.

Another former production staff member Yissel Ibarra haslaunched company Sincronia whichis developing a $2.5m Mexican/Brazilian co production Solo Dios Sabe with Carlos Bolado attached to directand Diego Luna (Y Tu Mama Tambien) to star. A US company is in talks to board the project.