How Hollywood Should be Making Movies for Latino Audiences

Feeling Latino audiences are underserved, Latino Review's Umberto Gonzalez launches Mayimbe Media, drums up support for first film, "Breakneck"

How Hollywood Should be Making Movies for Latino Audiences

Umberto Gonzalez couldn’t be a bigger movie fan, having helped turn Latino-Review.com into one of the more active blogs about the entertainment biz.

But as moviegoers continue to become more diverse, and the Latino audience in particular grows increasingly important to Hollywood’s bottomline in and outside of the megaplex, studios still have a long way to go in how it speaks to that demographic. Latino audiences, in particular, now represent 18% of the moviegoing population but accounted for 25% of all the movies seen in 2012, according to Nielsen.

However, feeling that the Latino audience is underserved, Gonzalez, who is known on Latino Review as the very vocal “El Mayimbe,” is now taking what he knows — as a movie fan and industry observer — into his own hands, and launched an IndieGogo campaign to produce his first film, “Breakneck,” under the newly launched Mayimbe Media banner. Shingle will produce, acquire and distribute microbudgeted films it will self-distribute in theaters and on a variety of digital platforms.

“Our focus is English language Latino content for English dominant Latino movie goers. Spanish language movie sites have little to barely any traffic because those movie goers read mainstream English language movie sites like ours,” Gonzalez said.

For Mayimbe Media — and Hollywood — to succeed with Latinos it needs to take the following into account, Gonzalez notes:

“One big way Hollywood is not talking to the Latino community is by not letting our actors get their shot at the brass ring and carry a franchise movie. For example, awhile back, a Latin actor was a director’s first choice to take over a well-known franchise but the studio wanted a bigger name, preferably a more marketable non-Latino and the studio got its way. That actor, Oscar Issac, eventually got his shot and is headlining the Coen Bros’ ‘Inside Lleywn Davis.’ “(With projects like “Breakneck,”) we look for and want to produce content which puts Latino actors in headlining roles, not just as sidekicks as they are in studio films.”

“Hollywood is not telling our stories whatsoever. Only one major studio has a Latino-themed project in the pipeline for the remainder of the year. There is no active development of a Latino themed project at the studio level. Where we differ is in the fact that we want to tell Latino themed stories in a commercial manner in proven genres such as action, thriller, and horror. We avoid films with social issues like immigration. We’re looking to entertain.”

“Hollywood is talking to us in the wrong language. The overwhelming majority of American Latino moviegoers are English-dominant and speak Spanish casually at home with their family. Advertising mainstream movies in Spanish on Spanish-language networks like Univision and Telemundo is an outright waste of both time and money. Those networks don’t get eyeballs from English-dominant speakers because we are conditioned to quality English language content which both those networks clearly lack.”

“According to our experience and feedback on the website, Latinos are really big into and embrace transmedia storytelling techniques, with material that normally wouldn’t make it into a screenplay because of the compressed running time of movies, but is native to the comicbook format and integral to the overall story. With us also being fanboys, we came up with a prequel comicbook that takes place right before the events of ‘Breakneck.'”

Daniel Alter (“Hitman”) will co-produce “Breakneck,” that revolves around a New York City bodega clerk who goes on the run across Manhattan from the police and a private military contractor for murders he didn’t commit, and fights to stay alive to prove his innocence. Gonzalez wrote the script for “Breakneck” and will direct the project he describes as “Jason Bourne in the barrio.”

Breakneck Indiegogo Pitch Video from Mayimbe Media on Vimeo.

The thriller will get a big push at next week’s Comic-Con, in San Diego, with Gonzalez looking to drum up support for the film at events like his annual Kings of Con party, one of the more sought after tickets during the fanboy fest.

“Effectively, this year’s Kings Of Con party will serve as a launch party for ‘Breakneck,’” said Alter, with some of the film’s contributors able to attend the event, in return for their suport. “As someone who is a big proponent of social media and digital content, I was eager to get involved in a crowdfunded project, especially one that appeals to such an under-serviced yet huge demographic. And what better place to get the word out than the biggest pop-culture event of the year?”

Added Gonzalez: “Latinos are the biggest consumers of popular culture. To keep in line with our commercial instincts, we are launching at Comic-Con to help get the word out and not at a ‘Latin’ event such as the Latin Billboard awards. When was the last time anything Latino themed launched at the world’s biggest pop culture convention? Why?”