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Produced by Conference: How Hispanic Movie Audiences Can Make All the Difference

“Hispanics love the same movies as others…just a little more.”  That was John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), at our Produced By conference panel discussion.  He joined Producer Bob Orci, Media Buying and Planning Consulting Gail Heaney and Nielsen’s Ray Ydoyoga for a lively discussion about the power of Hispanic passion and spending at the box office.

Hispanics represent 17% of the population and 19% of U.S. box office revenue.  But those numbers only tell part of the story.  They also see more movies per year – with more people – and choose opening weekend more than any other group.  “They make moviegoing a habit,” said Ydoyaga.

Fithian attributed the fact that the movie industry was up over 5% in Q1 2014 vs. 2013 to Hispanics taking advantage of more family movies on the slate.  However, Heaney, whose experience includes marketing The Twilight SagaThe Hurt LockerNow You See Me and Divergent, added that what was once an animation-and-action-only mentality when it comes to Hispanic moviegoers has shifted:  “You’d be hard pressed to scour IMDB and find a title that couldn’t work with this consumer.”

That’s one myth busted.  Here are a few more takeaways:

  • Hispanics tend to share more about movies on social media:  26% more likely than non-Hispanics, according to the Nielsen Moviegoing Report.
  • Language is not a barrier.  More than 70% of U.S. Hispanics are bilingual and the ones that watch Spanish-language TV are the heaviest moviegoers of all.  This despite the overwhelming majority of titles being in English.  “That was the biggest surprise of our findings this year,” said Ydoyaga about the current Moviegoing Report.
  • Hispanics are looking for all kinds of movie experiences, like IMAX, immersive sound and more varied concessions including high-end food and alcohol.  One person in the audience brought up Cinépolis, which pioneered luxury theater in Mexico and is now expanding into the U.S.
  • Having an awareness and understanding of Hispanic culture is importantwhether you’re a movie marketer or producer.  “Know the culture, and then incorporate that in your storytelling in some way,” advised Orci.  This doesn’t need to be overt – like “selling tacos on the Enterprise” (he’s writing and directing the upcoming Star Trek 3).  It can be accomplished more subtly like through casting decision or finding where your story and Hispanic passion points intersect.  Watch the trailer for Orci’s El Rey series “Matador,” about a soccer player by day, CIA agent by night for a great example of this.

Check out articles on VarietyThe Wrap and Yahoo for more on our Produced By session.

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