A ruling by Mexico's Supreme Court to permit the dubbing of foreign films into Spanish has thrown local filmmakers into a panic, but some observers believe the current unprecedented crop of local box office hits can withstand the changes.

Over the past 12 months, at least four Mexican films have scored highly with audiences, led by urban romp Sex, Shame And Tears (Sexo, Pudor Y Lagrimas), the third highest-grossing film ever in Mexico after Titanic and Tarzan. "Their fears are totally unfounded, these films have proven that screen availability is not an issue at all if you hit the right chord with audiences," said one market observer.

The good run started with The Other Conquest which took in $1.75m, followed by Sex, Shame, which scored a whopping $12.4m. Two current releases, Herod's Law and Gimme Power, could make up to $3m and $6m respectively. Prior to these, few Mexican films earned more than $1m at the tills.

The court's decision amends Mexico's Cinema Law which banned dubbing except for children's and non-fiction films. Distributors and exhibitors long complained that this ban had limited box office takings in rural areas where subtitles pose a problem to illiterate moviegoers. However they also argue that the new law will spur further investments in exhibition and in turn provide more screens for both local and foreign films.