When looking at the moviegoers by race/ethnicity, Hispanics moviegoers were the heaviest, as they represented 18 percent of the movie going population, but accounted for 25 percent of all movies seen. Hispanics were also the only demographic group that went to more movies in 2012 than in the prior year—9.5 movies on average compared with 8.5 in 2011.
These are some of the results of the 2012 Nielsen American Moviegoing report “Popcorn People: Profiles of the U.S. Moviegoer Audience” released a few weeks ago. And Hollywood is taking note.
Studios have tried to grasp this untapped market with more or less success. They know Hispanics are very important customers but to get to them is another thing. They have followed the old rule of thumb of putting a Latino character in blockbuster movies. They do the same including an African American hero—sometimes in a leading role to appeal to this audience. They also tried to do “Latino movies” with very much everything Latino. And when I say very much, I say too much.
Does any of this work? Maybe not. According to Nielsen, Hispanic moviegoers like movies like everyone else. They do not per se go to movies promoted as having Latino content or characters. They have their tastes, though. According to Nielsen’s survey, Hispanics reported that they most enjoy seeing action/adventure films, followed by comedy and sci-fi/fantasy and horror in fourth place.
Hispanics are also a very “familiar” society and consider going to the movies a family-friends event and like to discuss the movie over the dinner table later on.
Adding to that is the fact that not even language counts when targeting Hispanic audience. No matter what language Latino speaks at home, Spanish or English or if they mostly watch TV in Spanish, they go in droves to watch movies in English.
In my opinion, the secret to increase Hispanic audience should be in the balance. Including a “Latino” character as to fulfill the “Hispanic quote” does not help. A “too Latino” movie might scare Latinos and “gringos” alike. Hispanics are part of this country since centuries ago. They should go to mainstream movies too. A Latino could be any character in a movie not only “the Latino character” in the film.
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