Jose Solís, TheCostaRicaNews.com

The smell of popcorn is usually the one thing that lets you know you’ve arrived to a movie theater. Yet this familiar fragrance wasn’t what welcomed us to Discine’s Expo, held in Cinépolis, Terramall in San José. Instead, we were welcomed by the spicy smell of KFC’s popcorn chicken, which was being carried around in little striped boxes by waiters.

This wasn’t the only thing that seemed out of place in the theater lobby. We also discovered stands offering whiskey, magazines, Manchego cheese and chocolate milkshakes. All of this however had a purpose, which was, as we would learn later on, to show us all the fields where movies can be marketed.

Discine is one of Costa Rica’s largest film distributors. They release all the material for Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures. Among them, these studios occupy almost every single spot in the Costa Rican all-time box office champs, with films like Harry Potter, Ice Age and the number one movie of all time: Avatar.

The Discine Expo had the purpose of showcasing how these movies can be tied in to pretty much anything in the market. From The Smurfs’ conscientious call to “green living,” to the upcoming Tin Tin movie serving as a perfect platform to promote travel and multicultural tourism…the way in which the movies can sell us things go beyond the disposable toys that accompany fast food kiddy meals.

Discine’s marketing director, George Grant, explained that new deals are being made every day in which movies serve as ideal message carriers that cross geographical and cultural borders. His presentation was straight to the point and featured interesting data about the Costa Rican market as one of Latin America’s richest.

Coming soon to a theater near you

After all the bizz talk was said and done, we got to what everyone was there for: the movies. Grant and team did a great job in compiling trailers and previews for upcoming features like The Hangover 2, Sherlock Holmes 2 and showed a stunning four-minute trailer for this summer’s The Green Lantern which stars Ryan Reynolds as the famous comic book hero. This footage had only been shown in Comic Con a few weeks ago, which meant the Costa Rican market was getting something that resembled a world exclusive.

Besides all the blockbusters and high profile comedies we also got snippets of upcoming art films. Most interesting was to see Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar and the return of a dramatic Sandra Bullock (with old lady wig and all) for Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close which also stars Tom Hanks.

One of the most exciting previews was the one for Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming film with an all-star cast which includes Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard and many more. That’s four Academy Award winners in what could prove to be Soderbergh’s last film. He recently announced he’d be retiring soon.

Discine’s event also offered four parallel film screenings for the invitees. Among them: Rio, Just Go With It and Water for Elephants (which debuts next week in the United States).

The entire event was conducted with efficiency and class, with Mr. Grant being a helpful representative for the film industry in Costa Rica. The major success of the Discine Expo was sending away a group of people who’d been inside a movie theater for five hours, simply craving more.