×

Jason Blum Bets on Latino Auds With ‘Boy Next Door’

These are tricky times for the box office, which fell by 5.2% in 2014 (its lowest attendance level in two decades), but Hispanic ticketbuyers represent a silver lining. Last year, for instance, the demo constituted approximately 22% of the opening-week audience for the summer’s biggest blockbusters. And although Hispanics embrace movies of all genres, they consistently have made microbudget thrillers a safe bet for studios.

No one is more aware of this than Jason Blum, whose franchise films continue to over-index among the demographic. Hispanics turned out in droves to see Blum’s “The Purge: Anarchy,” contributing 36% of the movie’s impressive $30 million opening (not bad for a movie budgeted at $9 million). Following the success of the sequel, NBCUniversal signed Blumhouse Prods. to an unusually broad 10-year deal encompassing film, TV and digital.

Blum made his biggest bet on the demographic with “The Marked Ones,” a Latino spinoff of “Paranormal Activity” that grossed more than $32 million domestically in 2014 on a budget of $5 million — and he has more than 15 films on his slate for 2015, starting with Jennifer Lopez-starrer “The Boy Next Door,” opening Jan. 23. The psychological thriller exemplifies Blum’s formula: modestly budgeted films that feature Latino talent and/or incorporate Latino themes, yet still have mainstream appeal.

Lopez plays a newly separated mother whose one-night stand with her teenage son’s friend (Ryan Guzman of “Step Up” fame) goes awry. The movie fills the January slot that has been successful for films such as last year’s “Ride-Along.”

Universal’s promotional plan included a press day in Miami, where Lopez, who also serves as a producer on the $4 million film, made high-profile appearances on Univision and Telemundo. “We didn’t have $50 million behind it; it was something we made because we were passionate about it,” Lopez told Univision’s top-rated morning show “Despierta America.”

According to Fabian Castro, senior VP of multicultural marketing at Universal, the studio supports 75% to 80% of its movies with Hispanic outreach. Part of the success of “The Purge: Anarchy” ($111 million worldwide) is attributed to the studio targeting ads to Hispanics in 2014 World Cup broadcasts.

Some 20 consulting firms currently work with studios on Hispanic or Spanish-language publicity campaigns. Fox recently tapped American Entertainment Marketing to handle Hispanic outreach for “Taken 3,” which opened atop the box office, with almost $40 million on its Jan. 9 release. The agency’s founder and president, Ivette Rodriguez, created a meme-based campaign that reimagined Liam Neeson’s character as Latino.

The next great challenge for Hollywood: stepping up its courtship of Latinos without pandering. “The single biggest thing is to make a good genre movie,” says Ryan Turek, director of development at Blumhouse. “While the scares are obviously important, it is far more important to get the characters and story right, because once the audience becomes invested in those characters, it is so much easier to scare them.”

More Biz

  • Sallie Krawcheck

    Sallie Krawcheck's Ellevest Launches Women-Focused Impact Investment Platform

    Ellevest, the female-focused investment platform headed by Sallie Krawcheck, has launched an impact investment fund that will court high-net-worth women in entertainment and other sectors who want to tailor their stock portfolios to favor companies with good track records on a range of social concerns. Krawcheck, who was one of the highest-ranking women on Wall [...]

  • LeEco founder Jia Yueting

    LeEco Founder Jia Yueting Files for Bankruptcy in the U.S.

    Jia Yueting, the colorful Chinese entrepreneur who founded the LeEco electronics-to-video streaming group, has filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. Jia, sometimes known as YT, has debts on both sides of the Pacific and has been in the U.S. from late 2017, in defiance of an order from the China Securities Regulatory Commission to return [...]

  • Lakers NBA China Criticism

    From the NBA to 'South Park,' China Refuses to Play Ball With Its Critics

    The Oct. 12 game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets in the Chinese city of Shenzhen might have seemed like business as usual, with thousands of basketball fans out in force for the rare opportunity to see their beloved NBA teams compete live. But below the surface, tensions were high at the [...]

  • Whitney Houston Chris Cornell Notorious Big

    Whitney Houston, Soundgarden, Notorious B.I.G., More Nominated for Rock Hall of Fame

    Nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 were announced Tuesday morning: The lineup comprises Pat Benatar, Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Judas Priest, Kraftwerk, Dave Matthews Band, MC5, Motorhead, Nine Inch Nails, the Notorious B.I.G., Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren, Soundgarden, T. Rex and Thin Lizzy. The [...]

  • Help Wanted: Amazon Studios International Execs

    Help Wanted: Amazon Studios International Execs Talk European Expansion

    If there’s a perfect example of Amazon Studios’ strategy with its local-language international TV content, Japan’s “Documental” would be it. The series revolves around 10 comedians who battle to make one another laugh in an elimination-style competition. James Farrell, Amazon Studios’ head of international originals, said it was a good example of an unconventional idea [...]

  • CENTRAL PARK FIVE

    Netflix and Ava DuVernay Sued by Police Interrogation Firm

    The company behind a controversial police interrogation technique filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against Netflix and director Ava DuVernay, claiming that it was defamed in DuVernay’s miniseries on the Central Park jogger case. John E. Reid and Associates developed the Reid Technique in the late 1940s, and it has continued to offer training materials [...]

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger'Terminator: Dark Fate' film panel,

    Arnold Schwarzenegger Trades CAA for UTA

    Arnold Schwarzenegger has departed his former agency CAA and signed with UTA, which will represent the global superstar and two-time Governor of California in all areas. Schwarzenegger, whose films have grossed more than $4.7 billion worldwide, is set to reprise his celebrated role in the “Terminator” franchise, starring in “Terminator: Dark Fate.” He will also [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content