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5 things Hollywood learned about Latino moviegoers this summer

For kids in school, summer is typically spent catching up on reading lists and assigned homework between hours spent at the swimming pool and with friends at summer camp (not necessarily in that order). But many professionals working in the entertainment industry—whether as producers, journalists, actors, or producers—spent this summer learning about Latino moviegoers. (That’s largely thanks to an exclusive series on Hispanic film consumers published at TheWrap.)

From the growing importance of Hispanic females at the box office to the expanding movie preferences of Latino film fans, here are a few essential—takeaways about Hispanics that got Hollywood’s attention this summer.

1. Hispanic women over age 25 are the most frequent moviegoers. Summer films like Transformers: Age of Extinction, Godzilla and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are meant to capitalize on the appetites of young, mostly male audiences, but it turns out that Latina movie lovers headed to the movies more this summer often than any other age or ethnic group. According to a study conducted for The Wrap by market research firm C4, about 20 percent of Hispanic women watched this summer’s major releases—and in every case except for The Fault in Our Stars, those buying movie tickets were over the age of 25.

2. Hispanic audiences go to movies of all genres. Horror and family flicks used to be considered standard money makers among Latino audiences (the smash success of Guillermo del Toro’s Mama and the Lego movie were largely driven by Hispanic audiences). This summer, hits like 22 Jump Street (a comedy), Fault in Our Stars (a drama) and Edge of Tomorrow (a thriller) were all heavily attended by Latinos, who made up at least 20 percent of the opening week audience—proving that just like in political elections, their preferences aren’t monolithic.

3. Twenty is a magic number. When it comes to Hispanic movie lovers, that is. According to Nielsen/Univision research conducted for The Wrap, Latino ticket buyers are now Hollywood’s most valuable audience, accounting for at least 20 percent of ticket sales opening weekend for the highest-grossing movies in May and June. “You don’t have a major hit without Hispanic moviegoers,” Chris Aronson, Fox’s president of domestic distribution, told TheWrap.

And consider this: Latinos purchased 25 percent of the tickets sold in 2013 in the U.S. though they account for just 17 percent of the U.S. population, according to a study published by the Motion Picture Association of America last year. Those statistics are the driving force for a growing number of creative agencies that specialize in helping studios market films to Hispanic moviegoers, who tailor media campaigns to appeal to an audience that cares deeply about culture, family-friendly content, and Spanish-language media.

4. Tacos and margaritas now mean big money for cinemas. It’s no secret that overpriced popcorn and Big Gulp-sized drinks earn major dollars for movie theaters, but a diversified menu at the concession stand is a big draw for Latino moviegoers. Fajitas, chicken wraps, tacos, dishes spiced with chipotle peppers, and specialty cocktails are now available at AMC’s 15 dine-in theaters nationwide, part of an industry-wide push for diverse dining choices and alcohol offerings that aims to capitalize on the fact that Hispanic moviegoers overindex in their purchase of concessions and alcohol.

“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 explained to TheWrap.

5. The Latino presence in film—both in front of the camera and behind the scenes—remains alarmingly low. Despite the presence of Latinos in summer films like like Sex Tape (starring Cuban-American actress Cameron Diaz) and The Purge: Anarchy (with its predominantly Latino cast), there are “fewer Latino lead actors in the entertainment industry today, than there were seventy years ago,” a recent study by the Columbia University Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race shows.

And it gets worse: When Latinos are on camera, they are typically portrayed in roles that lean heavily on stereotypes—Latinos are often cast as criminals, law enforcers, cheap labor, and hypersexualized beings, the study found. And according to the study, when it comes to behind-the-scenes talent, Hispanics account for just 2.3 percent of movie directors, about 2 percent of producers, and 6 percent of writers.

“The success of a few Latino stars has created a widespread perception that media diversity in the U.S. is significantly improving,” said Frances Negrón-Muntaner, director of Columbia’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and the study’s lead researcher in a statement. “But our findings indicate that, in some ways, it is getting worse.”

Ethan Hawke interviews his 'Boyhood' co-star Ellar Coltrane

It all came down to a 6-year-old Texan named Ellar Coltrane. When the blue-eyed lad auditioned for Richard Linklater in 2002, the writer/director made a risky bet that the unknown child actor was the right kid for Boyhood—a daring, unprecedented project that would film the same people as they aged, in real time, over 12 years. “Child actors have this adult-pleasing personality,” Linklater says. “They are cute kids who are trying to have an effect on you, make you laugh. Ellar wasn’t like that at all. He didn’t give a shit what you thought of him, which was refreshing.”

The R-rated movie, which shot for a few days each year from 2002 to 2013, chronicles the life of Mason (Coltrane) as he navigates the treacherous waters of childhood. We see him shuttle between his divorced parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke), he cope with his mother’s remarriages (and the two lowly stepfathers who came with them), endure puberty, discover pot, fall in love, and get his heart broken. It is a grand cinematic experiment from a diector who regularly traffics in them, but none of it would have happened if Coltrane, the son of two Austin-based artists, lost interest or turned into a schmuck. Thankfully for Linklater—and us—he did neither.

While making Boyhood, Hawke, Linklater’s frequent collaborator, watched Coltrane evolve from a self-assured kid into an introspective, soft-spoken young man. The two formed a bond, so Hawke, once a child actor himself, asked to interview his on-screen son for EW. A month before Boyhood’s July 11 opening, the two wiry actors, now 43 and 19, reunited in Los Angeles for a long chat. The first order of business? Shoes off.


 

Hawke: [barefoot, sitting cross-legged on an ottoman facing Coltrane] A lot of kids go to little theater workshops. You went to the Richard Linklater Cinema Studies class at age 7. And unlike most kids, you have a thesis project to show for the whole deal. Does it feel like that to you?

Coltrane: [Removing his Velcro sandals]: Yeah in a certain way. I was just kind of along for the ride when I was young. I learned gradually by doing it. It’s very strange to have this reflection of all this work that I put a lot of myself into. But I almost didn’t think of it as a [film] project. It was just something that I was doing.

Hawke: But you did think about it. When you were very young, you were always extremely opinionated about movies, books, music. You started to remind me of my friend River Phoenix. He was a really interesting person. How much of your interest in the arts comes from your parents?

Coltrane: I was raised to be some kind of artist. Even before we started filming, I was being pushed to create something. But I also learned a lot from you Rick and Patricia—the method, the long-term nature of this. I learned a lot about patience. And I never thought about this movie coming out.

Hawke: We never talked about it. We did years of work that we knew nobody was going to see until some seemingly fictitious time. When Rick texted me that photo [at the wrap of production in 2013] of you two hugging in the middle of the road in a desert, I kinda fell apart. I couldn’t believe that our secret little project was done. Did it feel like that to you?

Coltrane: Yeah, definitely. It was just this personal experience. That’s what it was for most of us. It was something that we were doing for ourselves.

Hawke: When I was doing Dead Poets Society, I was about the same age that you are right now, and the actor Norman Lloyd said to me, “You have no idea how lucky you are. You guys think you are having a nice time but you don’t know how rare an experience this is.” He was in his 70s and he was saying that [director] Peter Weir is a really rare person, and this experience of making Dead Poets Society [was unique]. And I feel a little way like that towards you. I don’t think you even know how uncommon Rick is.

Coltrane: Yeah, I’m terrified to work on another project.

Hawke: You’ll be profoundly disappointed. [Laughs] The first time I saw Dead Poets Society, I thought it was a good film in the parts I wasn’t in. But every time I came on screen it turned into some home movie and I was hearing a screeching sound, like an alarm. Did you have any feelings like that watching Boyhood? It must have been weirder for you because there was so much of it that you don’t even remember doing.

Coltrane: And so much of myself that I didn’t even know I was putting on screen—especially early on and in the middle years, you don’t have the same self-awareness that you have now. There was just so much of myself that was going on screen. But it’s impossible to really worry about it.

Hawke: If this movie came out when you were 7, you’d be a different person now.

Coltrane: I probably would have lost my mind. Just seeing how much effort it’s taken me to navigate this [publicity campaign] now, I can’t imagine how I would have dealt with it at a younger age.

Hawke: Your parents split up during filming. They handled it better than most, but was it tough for you, especially since divorce figures prominently in the movie?

Coltrane: I became very depressed, and looking back now, I see that. I went to a really dark place, completely as a result of my parents splitting up. Watching the movie, some of the scenes with the stepfathers and the more painful elements of the broken home, I didn’t let myself relate to at the time. But watching it back, it feels very familiar.

Hawke: I think the movie gave your childhood a little more structure than it would have had without it.

Coltrane: Absolutely, it was the only structure, I had, pretty much.

Hawke: Didn’t you get a driver’s license for the movie?

Coltrane: Yes. The art director taught me to drive. [laughs]

Hawke: [laughs] I think I had my first kiss on screen. I had never actually kissed a girl before Amanda Peterson [in 1985’s Explorers].

Coltrane: [The movie was] an entirely different thing in my life—this organized thing that I was consistently working towards. I certainly had no reason to ever stop. Plus, I wasn’t raised in an environment that ever caused me to want to rebel. That’s never been a part of my reality. I feel like that’s so ingrained in so many children that you are so confined and repressed growing up that anything you do, you have to rebel against it at some point.

Hawke: F–k this movie.

Coltrane: [Laughs] Right, and I never felt that way with Boyhood. My parents never forced me to do anything.

EW: What was your childhood outside of this movie like?

Coltrane: Free-form I supposed. My mom comes from a really out-there upbringing so for her the way she raised me is pretty disciplined. I was home-schooled but more really unschooled, really.

Hawke: He was kind of raised by wolves.

Coltrane: That’s what I’ve been saying, that I was left to a pack of wolves.

EW: Are there any specific scenes that really catch you off guard, that are harder for you to watch?

Coltrane: It’s really the end. I don’t feel that emotional during the film. It’s really when the credits roll and it hits—I find myself so engaged. It’s my life in a lot of ways. I don’t feel very emotional in my life very often and so watching it, I’m sucked into my own head and I’m lost in that place. But then when it ends, [I think], ‘Oh that’s a movie, that’s this thing I helped create.’ And that final moment where Mason is, that’s very much where I am now. What’s happening after the credits, [now] that’s my life.

Hawke: A couple of my favorite scenes that I’ve ever been in in my life are with you. The whole dialogue about elves and kissing girls, those are conversations a lot of parents and kids have.

EW: This movie must feel even more personal to you since you collaborated on so much of the story too.

Coltrane: Absolutely. Very little was orchestrated ahead of time by Rick. It was all very organic, especially when I got older. In the same way it’s myself reflected, it’s also an artistic reflection of myself and seeing the first piece of art I’ve followed to the end.

Hawke: The laughter always surprises me throughout the movie. And the fact that people always think something horrible is going to happen, the anxiety.

Coltrane: I don’t think we ever intended that at all.

Hawke: No, we didn’t. But we are so conditioned to seeing horrible things happen in movies. Does this experience make you want to be an actor?

Coltrane: This makes me want to make art. Whatever that is, if acting can be an outlet to that then absolutely.

Hawke: That’s a good answer.

in_this_issue(2)For more on Boyhood, pick up a copy of this week’s Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday.

Sylvester Stallone will play hitman Gregory Scarpa in Brad Furman's 'Scarpa'

Sylvester Stallone is set to play hitman Gregory Scarpa in Brad Furman’s (The Lincoln Lawyer) upcoming film Scarpa.

The script was written by Nicholas Pileggi, who also wrote the Oscar nominated screenplay Goodfellas. This project will reunite Stallone with Rocky prodcuer Irwin Winkler, who is onboard to produce Scarpa along with Millennium Films’ Avi Lerner. READ FULL STORY

Video: Jessica Alba gets a creepy makeover in 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For' clip

Jessica Alba is back as stripper Nancy Callahan in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. But it appears as though Nancy’s been having a hard time since her mentor, John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), committed suicide in the last film. In the new clip, we see her in the bathroom talking to her reflection. “Maybe I’ll prove both you wrong,” she says. “Maybe I’ll go crazy. Crazy’s sounding pretty good right now.” She then proceeds to chop off all of her hair with a pair of scissors.

The next time we see her, she’s sitting in a restaurant booth loading a revolver and sporting a new haircut and cuts all over her face as Mickey Rourke’s Marv approaches her.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For hits theaters on August 22.

Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone reveal their Guy Fieri obsession

Married team Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone recently stopped by EW Radio to talk about Tammy, their passion project of a comedy. (McCarthy and Falcone wrote it together; the film stars McCarthy and was directed by Falcone in his feature debut.) In addition to dishing on the film, the couple also told us how they try to work a Guy Fieri reference into all their movies—including Bridesmaids. Listen below.  READ FULL STORY

Josh Charles shares 'Dead Poets Society' memories, 25 years later

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In the summer of 1989, Dead Poets Society was in theaters making moviegoers laugh, cry, and learn Latin. The Best Picture nominee earned an Oscar for screenwriter Tom Schulman, as well as nods for director Peter Weir and Robin Williams, who stars as English teacher John Keating—the man who taught more than just his prep-school students the meaning of the phrase carpe diem (“seize the day”). It was also the breakout film for Robert Sean Leonard (tortured Neil Perry), Ethan Hawke (shy Todd Anderson), and Josh Charles (romantic Knox Overstreet). Charles discussed some of his fond memories in an interview with EW. READ FULL STORY

'Stalingrad' director hired for film adaptation of Homer's 'Odyssey'

High school students, rejoice: Homer’s epic poem Odyssey is becoming a movie. Stalingrad director Fedor Bondarchuk has been hired by Warners Bros. to direct Odysseus, a “large-scale” film adaptation, Deadline reports.

The Odyssey follows the Greek epic hero Odysseus’ arduous journey home following the fall of Troy. The Killing‘s Jeremy Doner will write the script, and Gianni Nunnari (300), Bernie Goldmann, and Shannon Gaulding will produce.

Bondarchuk’s last film, Stalingradabout a group of Russian soldiers who must defend the city against the Nazis during World War II—was the top-grossing Russian film of 2013 and the first Russian film that was filmed in IMAX 3D. Although it featured several action sequences, it was filmed without a green screen.

 

 

Gugu Mbatha-Raw becomes a pop star in 'Beyond the Lights' -- EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS

It was 2007 and Alicia Keys was singing “Diary” at the Hollywood Bowl when inspiration struck writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball) for her new movie Beyond the Lights, the tale of a perfectly packaged pop star, played by Belle‘s Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who’s been groomed for stardom from a young age by her overbearing, opportunistic mother (Minnie Driver).

The movie spent years in development while Prince-Bythewood, who helmed 2008′s Secret Life of Bees, argued with Sony Pictures over her lead actress. “The studios wanted a big star, and I wanted the right person for the role,” says Prince-Bythewood, who hired her own casting agent to find Mbatha-Raw. “There is an innate vulnerability in Gugu. And you can sense her star power. That’s what we needed to believe–that she could be Rihanna or Beyonce.” READ FULL STORY

Video: 'Third Person' director Paul Haggis reveals what he learned from Fellini and Antonioni

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Much like Crash, the latest film from Oscar winner Paul Haggis, Third Person, features a large cast of characters that all have something in common. Starring Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Maria Bello, Adrien Brody, Kim Basinger, and more, it tells the intertwined love stories of three couples in different parts of the world.

Where does Haggis’ own story begin? We sat him down for our new video series, Origin Stories, to find out when he first started telling tales, which filmmakers inspired him, and where the idea for Third Person came from.

READ FULL STORY

Eli Wallach dies at 98

Eli Wallach, the actor best known for his roles in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and The Godfather franchise, has died. He was 98.

Wallach’s daughter Katherine confirmed his death to the New York Times. 

The New York City-born actor appeared in scores of films over his 60-plus year career alongside the likes of Clark Gable (The Misfits), Omar Sharif (Ghenghis Khan), Dean Martin (How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life), Yul Brunner (The Magnificent Seven) and Robert Shaw (The Deep). READ FULL STORY

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