‘Paranormal Activity’ Targets Latinos in New & Future Thriller

Similar to the presidential candidates catering to Latinos for votes, Hollywood wants to cash in on the multi-million dollar Hispanic marketing power. With a strong opening by the super-creepy found-footage movie Paranormal Activity 4 this past weekend – much of it bolstered by Latino audiences – Paramount Pictures is seeking to capitalize on this unexpected fan base.

Given the forceful response by Latinos to Paramount's marketing effort, several sites are now reporting that Paramount is planning a Latino version of the Paranormal spin-off. Opening sometime in 2013,  the projected film -preliminarily titled The Oxnard Tapes- will be directed by screenwriter Christopher Landon, who wrote both Paranormal 2 and 3.

The film’s subject is slated to explore Latino and Catholic themes based on paranormal mythology —the film will feature a full Latino cast, but will not be shot in Spanish.

It’s all part of Paramount’s effort to attract a demographic long ignored by Hollywood.

With Latinos attending films almost twice as much as any other group, making up 25 percent of moviegoers (at only 16 percent of the population), Latinos are 80 percent more likely to see a movie in its opening weekend, adding a whopping kah-ching for the studios.

To court Latinos, Paramount is running Spanish-language ads and English-language billboards in the cities with large Latino populations.

“There’s a very focused marketing campaign directed at this group. Paramount is speaking to them in their language, on Spanish language TV stations, which up until now many studios didn’t think about,” says Lisa Franek, Artistic and Exhibitions director of Media Arts Center San Diego.

Paranormal 4, which opened last Friday, is about a Nevada boy whose mother is so sick his neighbors take him in. While some members of the family warm up to him, others are not so welcoming.

The Latino-buying power in the U.S. has grown by over 347 percent in the last 10 years. The U.S. Latino market alone is the world's ninth biggest economy – larger than the gross domestic product of Brazil, Spain or Mexico.

Latinos in general are huge fans of horror —and this isn’t just in the U.S., but worldwide. Fans of the latest Paranormal film had the opportunity to vote on the studio’s “Want It” application on Facebook to try to win a chance for their city to see the film three days before its official release. The winning cities were Lima, Sao Paulo and Mexico City.

“The horror genre film in general has seen an uptick in recent years,” Franek said. “Zombies are the new black. And these Paranormal films call out to religious and cultural superstitions.”

She said Hispanics are a group that studios are now realizing cannot be ignored.

“All of the marketing aspects speak to the economic power Latinos are exerting. They’re spending more money for entertainment,” she said. “They’re not in survival mode any longer. They can’t be ignored and companies are working really hard to figure out how to capture them.”

It’s safe to say, and box office stats would prove, culturally, that Latinos love to be scared. Growing up hearing the warning tales by grandparents and parents about La Chupacabra (“The goat sucker”) or La Llorona (“The Weeping Woman”) coming to get you if you’re bad, Latinos’ love of horror seems almost hard-wired.

Exactly what else Paranormal is doing to attract Latino audience is somewhat of a mystery. Fox News Latino contacted Paramount about their marketing tactics for Latino audiences, but was told by Ashley Bodul, Manager, Communications & Special Projects, marketing strategies are confidential.

It is certainly no secret, though, that whatever strategy Paramount is doing seems to be working.