Film

10 Annoying Things We Learned Reading ‘The Wrap’s Coverage of Latino Moviegoers

The image above is not a satire. It is the actual image used by TheWrap.

Twitter: @BarbotRobot

If you haven’t seen TheWrap‘s series on Latino moviegoers yet, the pieces are worth a look, if only just to see how your precious dollars are being weighed and measured by the powers that be, and how and why they’re trying to sell you stuff. For a quick rundown, here’s ten things we learned.

1. Hispanics buy more movie tickets than any other group.

We account for between 20% and 25% of all movie tickets sold, despite only making up 17% of the U.S. population. We see lots of movies. It’d be nice to see more Latinos on screen as well as in the theater, but I digress…

2. Movie makers are shocked that we basically like what everyone else likes, almost like we’re people or something.

Check out these quotes…

The group has accounted for more than 20 percent of the audience for hits as disparate as “Maleficent” and “Godzilla,” according to data compiled by Nielsen and Univision. […]

“We went in with the notion that the Latino market was underserved,” Paul Presburger, CEO of Pantelion, told TheWrap. “That turned out not be the case, for the most part. They are buying more tickets; Hollywood is serving them well, and it can do even better.”

“Hispanics are becoming less of a niche audience and more a part of the mainstream,” Fabian Castro, SVP of multicultural marketing at Universal, told TheWrap. […]

Horror, action and comedy are considered the favorite genres of Hispanics and Latinos. Yet data suggests the Hispanic audience is increasingly vital to the success of movies in every genre. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of adult Hispanics who saw dramas rose by 15 percent while the audience for romantic comedies rose by 12 percent. The total audience for both of those genres dropped over the same time frame.

While movie studios rely on specific audiences for certain movies — women for romantic comedies, fanboys for comic book movies and African-Americans for select films — it can count on the Hispanic audience for all of the above. […]

“Hispanics are seemingly watching everything,” Fabian Castro, SVP of multicultural marketing at Universal, told TheWrap.

There are a whole lot of people really excited about the startling discovery that Hispanics don’t all just like one thing! They like all the things everyone else likes! Wow!

3. Despite the fact that Latinos are already seeing movies and responding to general, mainstream marketing, the major studios are trying to find ways to market specifically to Latinos.

This is kind of a mixed bag. Yay for recognition, boo for the inevitable sloppy Spanglish ads? It’s weird that, when you figure out that Hispanics react to the mainstream better than the actual “mainstream,” you still can’t just accept that Hispanics are the mainstream.

4. As Hispanics are the largest group to buy movie tickets, it turns out the largest overall demographic is Hispanic women over the age of 25.

Hello ladies.

5. Latinas like all the cool shit.

‘Hispanic women were just as likely as Hispanic men to have seen “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and more likely to have seen “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” Non-Hispanic men outnumbered women by 11 percent in attendance for both movies, according to the survey.

Hispanic women were more likely to have seen “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” than Hispanic men, and only slightly less likely to have seen “Godzilla.” Non-Hispanic men, on the other hand, outnumbered non-Hispanic women by at least 10 percent at both movies.’

So much for the myth of the chick flick — while Latinas also made up the largest single group to see The Fault in Our Stars, it’s impressive to know, as before, that [email protected] are people just like other people and so, like stuff that people like.

6. In case you thought Latinos liked superhero movies because everyone likes those movies, you hold the fucking phone, because here’s a marketing person to tell you differently.

‘One reason for the Hispanic attraction to superhero movies? Hispanics identify as both American and Hispanic, just as most superheroes identify as both humans, and, well, superheroes.

“That bi-cultural identity is the basis for the cultural resonance of superheroes,” Kate Perkins, an analyst for brand consultancy TruthCo, told TheWrap. Perkins recently wrote a report on the changing face of the American family, with a special emphasis on the Hispanic audience.

She argued all Hispanics see a parallel in superheroes because of “the foregrounding and backgrounding of two identities that are equally important.”’

Straight up, it’s just not the simplest explanation, Perkins. Granted, I like it, but given the numbers I’m not convinced it’s necessary — Hispanics flock to see superhero movies because everyone flocks to see those movies, and Hispanics just overindex in general.

7. Don’t like Bible movies? Blame them on your tía.

‘The recent rush of faith-based movies has many origins, one of which is their popularity among Hispanics. “Son of God,” “God’s Not Dead,” “Noah” and “Heaven Is For Real” all played well in the Hispanic community, 80 percent of which identifies as either Catholic or Protestant, according to the U.S. Census. The studios that released those movies made a concerted effort to market their movies to that community as well.’

Not concerted enough to avoid cramming those movies full of white people, though. I mean seriously.

8. Latinos dig horror movies, too, though.

But we knew that already.

9. As always, tacos and booze = Hispanic outreach.

At AMC’s 15 dine-in theaters, the chain offers a menu that features two dishes with chipotle peppers, three types of tacos, five kinds of quesadillas, a fiesta trio, a fajita chicken wrap and more than 20 specialty cocktails. […]

“Our dine-in theaters, while not specifically targeting a certain demo, have a seasonal menu that would line up closer to a Hispanic moviegoing population in terms of food,” AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan told TheWrap.’

Sigh. Not gonna lie, though: I love tacos and booze.

10. Not all hope is lost, of course.

In the final installment of TheWrap’s series, we get this:

“That movie is more the anomaly than the rule,” Fabian Castro, SVP of multicultural marketing at Universal, said of “Instructions Not Included.” Castro is one of many executives who argue the emphasis should be on including more Hispanic voices in studio projects — more writers, directors, producers and cinematographers crafting stories for the small but growing pool of Hispanic talent.

We need more Fabian Castros — until then we’ll be forced to watch Hollywood spin its wheels while marveling that Latinos are people, too.

Ultimately, while it’s heartening to see Hispanics get recognized by studios and cinema chains, the sum total is disappointing; all the breathless acknowledgement that Latinos see and respond to all kinds of movies is delivered as if it’s surprising, like the time you realized that your pets might have feelings. It smacks of a very particular kind of condescension and othering that only mass media is capable of, and that only bad marketing has truly perfected.

Kudos to TheWrap for this fascinating look behind the curtain. Unfortunately, showing the way the world reacts to Latino influence just illustrates how much work still needs to be done.

You can read the first, second, and third installments at TheWrap.