While Hollywood figures out how to tap into the Hispanic and Latino demo that reps 18% of the moviegoing public but watches 25% of movies seen, one specialty fansite is jumping into content creation to cater to the growing niche audience. Latino-Review.com, an independently owned website covering Latino-themed film and entertainment, is spinning off start-up Mayimbe Media to produce, acquire, and distribute original microbudgeted films. Umberto Gonzalez, who goes by the scoopster handle “El Mayimbe” on Latino Review, will kickstart the new venture with his own directorial debut. “In recent years studios came to us directly to advertise their Latino-focused movies,” he told Deadline. A few studios, like Lionsgate and Paramount, have begun to focus efforts on Latino-themed properties — most notably Paramount in its Paranormal Activity franchise. But for the most part, Gonzalez says, “the content out there is lowbrow” and not well attuned to the genre-hungry American Latino audience. Mayimbe Media has launched an IndieGogo campaign to raise $109K to shoot its first feature, an action thriller titled Breakneck billed as “Bourne in the barrio” that Gonzalez wrote and aims to direct in NYC in August. To that end Mayimbe Media isn’t just tapping the Latino Review readership as potential consumers. It’s also capitalizing on filmmaker relationships cultivated over years of covering and promoting films. Hitman and The Apparition producer Daniel Alter has come aboard to produce Breakneck to help raise additional budget and guide the production. Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, whose films are routinely written about on the site, has donated signed swag to the IndieGogo campaign. Gonzalez is even offering tickets to the annual Latino Review-sponsored Kings of Con Comic-Con party at the $150 donation level, exploiting the website’s biggest annual promotional event to fuel Mayimbe Media.
The plan is to self-distribute theatrically and digitally including direct sales via web distribution platform VHX — unless the right studio distributor wants to jump onboard as a partner, Gonzalez adds. But part of the point is that even established distributors haven’t mastered how to deliver targeted fare to Latino audiences. “Latino-themed movies come out and get bumped to art house cinemas, and Latinos avoid that like the plague,” said Gonzalez. “We see one movie after another die a quick painful death after a weekend in an indie movie theater with no foot traffic from Latinos.”