Beleaguered homevideo retail giant Blockbuster is making a pitch for the fast-growing U.S. Hispanic market by teaming with mini-Latino studio Maya Entertainment to set up a film festival and screenwriting competition.

"We've always had an eye on the growing Hispanic demo, which has overindexed on movies and DVDs for a number of years now," said Keith Leopard, Blockbuster's film content director.

Move is aimed at driving more customers to the retailer's 3,900 U.S. stores, which account for roughly 70% of its revenues. At least 400 of the stores are in predominantly Latino neighborhoods.

Fest, dubbed Maya Independent Sponsored by Blockbuster, will screen Latino-themed pics in 10 cities including Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Fest kicks off in June and wraps in September (Hispanic Heritage Month), when pics will be available for rental exclusively at Blockbuster.

Maya aims to spend up to $1 million on P&A, using local TV, radio, Internet, mobile campaigns and grassroots promotions, according to Maya VP of marketing and digital media Jaime Gamboa.

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