Umberto Gonzalez, who is better known as “El Mayimbe” on his fan website has kickstarted a new venture with his own directorial debut. While Hollywood is still trying to figure out how to capture the giant’s share of the Latino demographic… which by the way represents 18% of the moviegoing public, Latino Review’s start-up Mayimbe Media is ready to produce, acquire, and distribute original micro budged films.
“In recent years studios came to us directly to advertise their Latino-focused movies,” Gonzalez said in an interview. 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. Gonzalez has also garnered the support of filmmaker Guillermo del Toro whose films are a Latino Review favorite, 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.
Gonzalez stated that they play 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. “But part of the point,” added Gonzalez, ” 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. 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.”
Latin Heat asked what made him want to jump into the content world when he’s movie fan web site is doing so well?
Umberto Gonzalez: We’ve been in business for 10 years and we’ve seen how the industry has changed. The timing is right… we have access to the studios and as a result, we can go in a bit deeper than the average Latino filmmaker.
LH: Latino Review is all about reviewing and promoting mainstream films, a lot of blockbusters… Why do you think your films with Latinos or about Latinos will be able to succeed?
UG: First, I am 100% a Latino filmmaker and my perspective is Latino. Recently, there are three major films whose box office success is attributed to the Latinos. [Fast and Furious 6, The Purge, Mama,]
Latinos accounted for 1/3rd of of Fast and Furious 6 film’s opening weekend audience
LH: What type of films will you be making?
UG: Action, horror, thriller genres… ripped from the headlines storylines and convert them into action… super hero movies. We’ve had Latino Review for ten years, and we have witnessed first hand that the Latin explosion is with commercial content. Latino audiences love these type of films… pure entertainment.
LH: With all this controversy about Hollywood stereotyping, what do you think?
UG: We need to put up or shut up. If our images as Latinos are not defined by us, they [Hollywood] will continue to be defined for us. Studios are not our enemy… just bring them content that is commercial.
46% of movie audience for Mama were Latino