Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Lionsgate and Televisa Unite to Produce Hispanic-focused Films

The Mexican mega-studio, Televisa, known for its hit telenovelas and Lionsgate, a leading entertainment studio, are teaming up to bring Hispanic-focused films to the big screen.

The companies are expected to announce on Tuesday plans for the creation of Pantelion Films, a joint venture by the two companies that will release eight to 10 movies annually over the next five years that are aimed at Hispanic moviegoers in the United States.  The movies will vary in genre and some will be in English while others in Spanish.

“If we tell emotionally resonant stories and explore the roots of Spanish-speaking people, there is a very attractive opportunity here,” Emilio Azcárraga Jean, chief executive of Grupo Televisa, said. “People like to see themselves represented on the screen.”

The first film by Pantelion, “From Prada to Nada,” is already scheduled to be released in January.  It will tell the story of two spoiled rich sisters who are forced to move in with their poor aunt in East Los Angeles.

History shows that it will be a risky venture for the two companies.  In the past, several companies including Samuel Goldwyn Films, which released Tortilla Soup in 2001, have seen little return for their efforts.  The time around the two studios are confident that they can pull it off.

“We have been interested in this market for a long time, but now we really think we can turn it into a business,” Jon Feltheimer , chief executive of Lions Gate Entertainment, said.

Feltheimer and Azcarraga say the figures are on their side showing that 37 million Hispanic moviegoers bought 300 million tickets in 2009.  That amounts to a per-moviegoer rate of more than eight tickets a year, the highest of any ethnic group.

“It’s difficult to go to the movies and find Latinos in roles that are normal,” Gerardo Lopez, AMC Entertainment chief executive, said.  “Instead, it’s the bad guy in the neighborhood, the guy with the tattoos. Rarely do you see a Latino portrayed as a businessman, for crying out loud.”

AMC is North America’s second-largest movie theater chain behind Regal Entertainment.  Lopez has pledged to dedicate at least one screen in 50 of its theaters to Pantelion films.

“Gee, if we can give them more culturally relevant product we may just get them to come to the movies a little bit more,” Lopez said.

New York Times