Spurred by theglobal success of Oscar nominated El Crimen Del Padre Amaro, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE)has launched a production office in Mexico City and has appointed GabrielRipstein, formerly of Mexican production company Altavista Films and itsdistribution company NuVision, as director of creative affairs.

Dubbed ColumbiaPictures Producciones Mexico, the new local language production office will bedefining its slate in the next few months. One of its possible upcomingprojects may be with Mexican producer/director Roberto Sneider who also has afeature in development at Altavista, Arrancame La Vida. Sneider was one of the producers of Frida.

In a statement,John Calley, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SPE said : "We've beenconsidering opening a production office in Mexico for quite some time."

"Oursuccess with El Crimen Del Padre Amaro sped up our timeline considerably. Being on the ground inMexico City will give us greater access to the nation's rich talent pool andits growing market," he added. "This move further strengthens SPE's overallcorporate strategy of producing local language films in key markets throughoutthe world."

SPE willcontinue to invest in, acquire and co-produce local product in the regionthrough the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group in Mexico City. This grouphas recently experienced success with such films as Carlos Carrera'spriest-scandal drama El Crimen Del Padre Amaro, Mexico's highest-grossing film withover $26 million in worldwide box office, as well as its first Mexicanproduction, Carlos Sama's dark comedy, Sin Ton Ni Sonia.

While atAltavista Films and Nuvision, Ripstein evaluated production projects anddesigned financial and commercial structures for production and co-productioninitiatives. Ripstein has an MBA in Media Management from Columbia University.He will report to Gareth Wigan, Vice Chairman, Columbia TriStar Motion PictureGroup and Paul Smith, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Marketing andDistribution, Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group.

SPE currentlyhas a local-language production presence in Hong Kong, China, Spain, Brazil andthe UK. Columbia Pictures Film Productions Asia, established in 1998, wasresponsible for the production of the Oscar-winning hit Crouching Tiger,Hidden Dragon thatgrossed more than $200 million worldwide.