Growing market for Hispanic films motivates Hollywood

With the September 14 news that Lionsgate Studios is partnering with Mexico-based media conglomerate Televisa to release 8-10 films targeting the US Latino moviegoer, the importance of this audience is in the spotlight.

In the US, 26 million moviegoers are Hispanic, representing the fastest-growing part of the audience, accounting for one-fourth of all frequent moviegoers, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The new studio partnership estimates this comprises an estimated $1 billion in ticket sales in 2008.

The presence of starring Latina actresses is rising, such as Eva Mendes ( The Other Guys) and Michelle Rodriquez ( Avatar), joining the strong numbers of Latino actors, and 'Hispanic' films have increasingly been successful, such as Robert Rodriguez's Desperado starring Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas earning $25 million in 1995.

Some of the most recent top-earning Latino-oriented or Spanish-language films, per Box Office Mojo, include:

- Rodriguez's Machete starring Danny Trejo and Jessica Alba which opened as the number two film in the US two weekends ago and has made $21 million and counting.

- Volver (2006) earned $85 million. Directed by award-winning Pedro Almodovar and starring Penelope Cruz, it was nominated for an Oscar.

- Broken Embraces (2009), which earned $40 million worldwide, was also directed by Almodovar and starred Cruz.

- The Motorcycle Diaries or Diarios de Motocicleta (2004) earned $57 million. Directed by Walter Salles it starred Gael García Bernal.

- Frida (2002) earned $56 million. The biopic about artist Frida Kahlo played by Salma Hayek was directed by Julie Taymor and co-starred Alfred Molina as Diego Rivera.

- Y Tu Mamá También (And Your Mother Too) (2002) made $33 million. Directed by Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón ( Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) it co-starred Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal.

- Real Women Have Curves (2002) earned $7.7 million. Starring America Ferrara and directed by Patricia Cardoso, it focused on growing up in America as a Hispanic.

- Mexican directors who have been embraced by Hollywood studios include Alejandro González Iñárritu ( 21 Grams, Babel), and Guillermo del Toro ( Hellboy films, Pan's Labyrinth).

RC

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