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Latinos flex Maya plex

Cinemas to open seven locations, starting in NM

Aiming at the fast-growing Latino demographic, actor-producer Moctesuma Esparza’s Maya Cinemas is launching its first branded multiplex, a 14-screener, on July 29 in Salinas.

Maya, in partnership with Urban Retail Properties, plans to open seven facilities with over 100 screens next year, starting with a 10-plex in Santa Ana Pueblo, N.M., in April. Maya’s targeting “Latino-centric, family-oriented” communities. Company will reserve at least one screen for specialized, community-interest films.

Esparza has also opened production-distribution shingle Maya Pictures with access to $30 million in private equity and discussions under way for output deals with homevideo companies and pay cable buyers. Kimberly Myers has been tapped head of production while marketing and distribution will be headed by Michael Harpster and Kevin Benson.

First project is “Walkout,” directed by Edward James Olmos for HBO, based on the 1968 walkout at five high school in East Los Angeles to protest educational conditions.

Esparza and Maya Pictures are also producing “Circumsized Cinema” for Si TV; Columbus,” a comedy written by Jorge Aguirre and to be directed by Gabriela Tagliavini; How Joe Got His Pimp Grip,” a teen comedy written and to be directed by Joaquin Perea; “Mango Passion,” a romantic comedy written by Rosemary Alderete; and one-hour series “Milagro Beanfield War,” written by Jeff Melvoin and in development at Touchstone.

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