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Director Says 'Ladr?n' Is for All Latinos

11 Jan, 2008 By: Angelique Flores

Ladr?n Que Roba a Ladr?n

The team of JoJo Henrickson and Joe Menendez first wrote the screenplay for Ladr?n Que Roba a Ladr?n in English. Then they had it translated into Spanish. And then they populated the cast with Mexican novela stars. And it was all done to reach Spanish-speaking Latinos in the U.S. market.

Sound confusing?

Maybe a little, but the formula seemed to work. The movie scored the biggest opening weekend at the box office for a Spanish film, according to IMDb.com.

Now Lionsgate is bringing the critically lauded film to DVD Jan. 29 for $19.98. Extras include a making-of featurette, a featurette with the composer, a director's commentary and deleted scenes.

Ladr?n features an ensemble cast, most of which are well known to fans of novelas: Fernando Colunga, Miguel Varoni, Gabriel Soto, Julie Gonzalo, Ivonne Montero, Sonya Smith and Sa┬Ěl Lisazo.

The ‘PG-13' film is a fun caper movie, fit for the family. In fact, at an advance screening, Colunga brought his mom, who applauded the film as being the first Spanish-language film she had seen without grosser?a (obscenities or bad language), sex or drugs.

The film doesn't feel like a typical Spanish-language film from Spain, Mexico, or other South American countries, said Menendez, who also directed the film.

“They tend to be a bit more bleak,” Menendez said. “My approach to the types of stories is very mainstream. I don't want to make something dark and esoteric.”

And that Hollywood sensibility translated into Spanish is what makes this film unique, he said.

“Back in the 1930s, Hollywood made films for a Spanish-speaking audience. This is the first time since then that Hollywood is doing that again,” Menendez said.

With the screenplay written by Latino Americans (the Cuban Menendez was born in New York and raised in Miami; Henrickson was born in San Diego and raised in Texas), it wasn't hard to get that American flavor on the screen.

“This was something made by Latinos in the U.S. for Latinos in the U.S.” Menendez said. “It doesn't matter if you're first-generation or second-generation [Latino]. It's for all Latinos.”

Bringing in novela stars was an idea from Jim McNamara, the former CEO of Telemundo. McNamara is chairman of Panamax, which produced the film with Narrow Bridge Films, run by Menendez and his wife Roni Menendez.

McNamara was well aware of the star system in the Latin American world, Menendez said, which is made up mostly of TV actors.

The director admits to approaching the idea with a bias against novela stars, but handpicked the actors with whom he wanted to work.

“These actors belong on the big screen,” he said.

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