In its bid to increase its share of the U.S. Latino marketplace, Lionsgate has tapped homevid vet Arturo Chavez to serve as director of Spanish-language programming.
Chavez was head of Studio Latino, the Spanish-language division of leading home entertainment distrib Ventura Distribution, whose assets First Look Studios acquired for $16.5 million in March.
Chavez will oversee Lionsgate’s Latino initiatives, including its co-production and distribution deal with Jim McNamara’s Panamax Films, which calls for six to eight pics per year.
Fledgling pact debuted in mid-April with the release of romantic comedy “La mujer de mi hermano,” starring telenovela star Barbara Mori. Pic, which grossed $2.8 million, opened on about 200 screens in nearly 20 markets — one of the largest openings for a Spanish-language film aimed at U.S. Latino auds.
Chavez also bring his 20-year experience to bear on Lionsgate’s distribution of Spanish-language home entertainment.
At its peak, Ventura Distribution had a 30% share of the Spanish homevid market; Lionsgate currently has a 6% share, Chavez said.
“We hope to increase Lionsgate’s share of the Latino home entertainment marketplace by signing with a series of strategic partners,” he continued.
To that end, Lionsgate has reupped its pact with Venezuela’s Venevision to release 12 of its direct-to-video titles per year. It also has inked with Univision’s homevid label, Unicine, to distribute its direct-to-video titles, a task once undertaken by Studio Latino.
Lionsgate is close to signing a homevideo distribution deal with a prominent Mexican entertainment company.
As the senior member of Studio Latino’s core team, Chavez played a key role in developing the company’s overall Latino strategy and positioning, including the division’s product development, product management and release schedule planning.
Before Studio Latino, he spent 14 years as a senior analyst at Mexcinema Video, an independent video publisher catering to Spanish-language accounts in the U.S.
Chavez will be based in Lionsgate’s Santa Monica office, reporting to Ron Schwartz, exec VP, North American sales.