An interesting approach to moviemaking for U.S. Hispanics
July 29th, 2008
Posted by Jose Villa
This past weekend I was up in the mountains hanging out with my family, and I had the chance to watch a surprisingly fun movie on DVD called “Ladron Que Roba Ladron” (A Thief that Robs A Thief).
The movie is almost 100% in Spanish (with subtitles), while set in Los Angeles, CA. The cast included some very recognizable telenovela stars (even for a guy who hasn’t watched a novela since he moved out of his parents house). The cast includes Fernando Colunga (one of the biggest telenovela actors on Univision), Miguel Varoni (a leading telenovela and TV actor from Columbia), Julie Gonzalo (an Argentinean actress who has been in many U.S. films), Gabriel Soto (a popular Mexico telenovela star), and Saul Lisazo (another powerhouse telenovela actor from Mexico).
The movie is a basically a heist film, in the Ocean’s 11 tradition, set on the canvas of Latino immigrant life.
Now don’t worry, ThinkMulticultural is becoming a Latino movie review Web site! The reason I am talking about the film is that I think the producers of this film have figured out a formula to create a successful film targeted to U.S. Hispanics. This formula has some lessons that can be applied to Hispanic marketing and product development.
Here are some key things that made the film work:
- The producers used very popular telenovela stars – this made the movie look big budget (even though it wasn’t) and attractive to older Hispanic audiences (and their children, i.e. me) who enjoy or have seen popular telenovelas
- The film was set in Los Angeles, CA, not some village in Mexico or Buenos Aires – this made the plot more relevant to U.S. Hispanics
- The film portrays Latino immigrants in a very favorable light – even going so far as to make the immigrants the heroes of the film
- The movie is essentially an action film – which is always a big draw for guys
- The film had a very Latin beat and feel – the humor and sensibilities were very Hispanic
- “Ladron” utilized a pan-Latin American cast that included stars from Mexico, Argentina, Columbia, Venezuela and Cuba (I know I really enjoyed the Cuban refugee character) – a small gesture to reach out the multitude of groups that make up the U.S. Hispanic market
I know a lot of people in Hollywood have been trying to crack the Latino market for years now – with little success. While this movie wasn’t a blockbuster (I read it made around $4 million and cost around $2 million to make), it did do well and I think the producers created a recipe that can be refined for future success.
I’m personally looking forward to more movies like “Ladron Que Roba Ladron.”
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