Studios try to ‘crack the code’ on Latino moviegoers
In the same way Hispanics have become an important political voice, so it goes with Hollywood and moviegoing.
Hispanics, now the second-largest group in the U.S., are more likely to go to movies, the Motion Picture Association of America says. Last year, 43 million Hispanics purchased 351 million movie tickets, a MPAA report says, an uptick from the 37 million who bought 300 million tickets the previous year.
And in 2010, when Nielsen examined that coveted group of heavy moviegoers — people who see on average 16 movies a year and contribute to 63 percent of ticket sales — it found that Hispanics make up 26 percent of those frequenting theaters.
“In every single dimension that you can think of, you can see that the Hispanic group is a moviegoing group,” Nielsen’s Claudia Pardo says. “They go in families, they go often, and they account for a larger share of the ticket sales.”
For years, Hispanics have been a fast-growing demographic, but while Hollywood studios are well aware a sizable audience is there, the industry is still testing out the best ways to reach it.
Naturally, studios have picked up on the trend, explaining what Fabian Castro, Universal’s vice president of multicultural marketing, calls the “boilerplate” of movie marketing these days: “You do your Spanish-language ads on Univision and Telemundo, and more often than not it’s a translation of an English ad. You hit your magazines and websites, and you do some sort of grass-roots effort. That’s standard.”
Yet the reality is not quite that simple. The Hispanic demographic is far from homogenous, consisting of various nationalities, levels of acculturation and language preference, which affect both the development of movies targeting the group as well as the way studios try to market so-called mainstream films.
As a result, Hollywood is trying out a hodgepodge of ways to reach the group: developing more nuanced marketing, finding ways to make mainstream films more inclusive and providing something different from mass-appeal blockbusters by making movies targeted to Hispanics.
Producer Elizabeth Avellan — whose resume includes “Once Upon a Time In Mexico,” “Machete” and the “Spy Kids” franchise (a fourth installment arrives in August) — says Hollywood is in the midst of trying to “crack the code.”
“The problem is that no one has had the patience to crack it. Latinos love tent-pole movies — they want to go to see ‘Spider-Man,’ they want to go see ‘Predators,’ ” she says.