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Will From Prada to Nada Unlock Latino Box Office Dollars?

by Latoya Peterson

A “Latina spin on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility,” Pantelion Films (a collaboration between U.S. distributor Lionsgate and Mexico’s Televisa) is hoping that From Prada to Nada will inspire a Latino demonstration of box office force. According to an article in Fast Company:

Released at the end of January, Pantelion’s first film, From Prada to Nada, focuses on two formerly rich sisters — one of whom proudly quips “no hablo español” with an Anglo accent — who are forced to move in with relatives in a scrappy, Latino part of East Los Angeles. While the movie is in English, many of the punch lines are in Spanish.

Hollywood’s previous attempts to market Spanish-language and Latino-centric films have largely failed. Even though movies in Spanish like IFC’s Y Tu Mamá También and Focus Features’ The Motorcycle Diaries found success in the art-house market, they did not broadly appeal to the Latino population. Those teenagers McNamara chats up in movie-theater lobbies generally opt to see commercial blockbusters in English. Language is not the company’s key strategy — only about half of Pantelion’s releases will be in Spanish.

“When a movie is in Spanish, if a Puerto Rican is speaking Spanish, or a Mexican is speaking Spanish, it identifies them,” Pantelion’s chief executive, Paul Presburger, says of the language’s countless dialects and geographically diverse slang. “Whereas when we do a film with Latino stars in English, it unifies.”

From the looks of the trailer could either upend stereotypes or confirm them. The story backdrop is one of class, family, and culture – but there are also more than a few border and immigration jokes that could either play into stereotypes or work as intimate commentary on current events. Still, there is cause for alarm – Lionsgate wants to apply the Tyler Perry model to Latino films, which could stoke more controversy:

Pantelion will let the target audience decide if something is offensive, executives say. “African-Americans are going to see Perry’s films; they’re the ones enjoying them,” Presburger says. Nonetheless, the Pantelion staff reads scripts with a careful eye for hackneyed images of Latino life and culture. “We get out of the stereotypes of narco kings and drug dealers and gang members,” Presburger adds.

From Prada to Nada opens January 28th.