Pass the popcorn: new data shows Latinos (still) love going to the movies
How much do we love to go to the movies? The answer, as in previous years, is a whole lot.
By ANGIE ROMERO
The numbers don’t lie. Per this newly released infographic (click on image above to see it bigger) from the Motion Picture Association of America with data from 2011, Latinos account for $30.6 million in annual movies sales, and see an average of 5.3 movies per year, more than any other ethnic group. That’s pretty much my weekly average, but that’s besides the point.
At CinemaCon last week, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA Chris Dodd gave a speech in which he drove home the importance of Latinos as a movie-going audience: “Latinos make up 16 percent of the U.S. population, but more than a quarter of the movie-going audience,” he noted. “I often say that movies matter to America. Well, when it comes to our rapidly growing Latino population, movies are very important. And the Latino community is one of the most important [ones] to theater owners.”
So does this mean we’ll see a bigger/better effort from studios large and small to cater to us? They’ve been trying for years, but with mixed results. Universal’s Fast & Furious franchise, for instance, is an example of a fool-proof formula. The series is churning out a sixth installment in 2013 (and rumor has it Michelle Rodriguez is somehow coming back from the dead, too!). But its success is not due to it being what studios call a “Hispanic film,” meaning a Spanish-language film with an overtly Latino storyline, but rather it’s a mainstream movie with Latino appeal — reggaeton stars Tego Calderón and Don Omar have cameos; the female leads are gorgeous Latinas; the soundtracks in the past have featured the likes of Pitbull; and, at least in Fast Five, the setting was Brazil.
“With an African-American movie, you can have a hit just with African-American audiences, but so far, the answer has been no with Hispanics,” Universal president of marketing and distribution Adam Fogelson told Variety in 2009, when Fast’s fourth installment came out, with Latinos making up almost 50 percent of its audience — one helluva case study. “They have more interest in assimilating.”
But other, smaller studios are taking a different approach. Pantelion, a joint venture between Lionsgate and Televisa, has pumped out several Latino-centric stories since forming in September 2010, including 2011’s From Prada to Nada with Camilla Belle, this year’s Casa de mi Padre with Will Ferrell, and Girl In Progress, starring Eva Mendes and out in time for Mother’s Day. Though Prada was critically slammed and opened modestly, Casa, released in March in approximately 500 theaters, has been the studio’s most successful film to date, grossing nearly $6 million ($2.3 million in its opening weekend, the third largest domestic release ever for a movie out in fewer than 600 theaters). The company’s CEO Paul Presburger, recently told Variety that though Latino audiences are “very aspirational” and want to see mainstream movies, “they also feel underrepresented in Hollywood.”
Which side of the coin are you on?
(Infographic: Courtesy of MPAA, click on image to see it bigger)