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Lionsgate Courts Latinos With New Appointment

25 May, 2006 By: Angelique Flores

Arturo Chavez

Lionsgate is deepening its foothold in the Latino marketplace.

The minimajor announced the appointment of Arturo Chavez to director of Spanish-language programming. In this newly created position, Chavez will oversee the company's Latino initiatives and will be based in the Santa Monica, Calif., office. Chavez will report to Ron Schwartz, EVP of North American sales.

“Arturo is widely recognized as one of the most knowledgeable experts of Spanish-language films in the U.S. market,” said Lionsgate president Steve Beeks. “With his experience and proven success in the arena, he will be a huge addition to the company as we continue to strive to create high-quality products for the Latino marketplace.”

Chavez has more than 20 years experience in the Latino home entertainment industry, including a background in art direction, wholesale and retail sales, and video distribution operations. Prior to joining Lionsgate, he served as a senior member of Ventura label Studio Latino's staff, where he played a major role in developing the company's overall Latino strategy and positioning. Before that, he spent 14 years as a senior analyst at Mexcinema Video Corp., an independent video publisher catering to Spanish-language accounts in the United States.

“Lionsgate has a big commitment to the Latino market and wants to increase its presence in the Latino marketplace,” Chavez said. “We want to be the leaders.”

The studio is working on a strategy to release one Latino movie every quarter, and plans to release some Latino libraries directly to video, he added.

Already, Lionsgate boasts one of the largest Latino libraries in the industry. The creation of this position is the studio's latest move in increasing its presence in the Latino marketplace.

A year ago, Lionsgate teamed with Venevision to release 12 to 20 Spanish-language movies per year directly to video in the United States. In January, Lionsgate struck a deal with Mach 8, a leading U.S.-based source of Mexican cinema, that gave the studio North American home video and video-on-demand distribution rights to Mach 8's 62-title Spanish-language catalog and all upcoming releases.

In December, Lionsgate cut a deal with Panamax Films to co-produce and distribute six to eight Spanish-language/Latino feature films for the North American and worldwide market. Lionsgate's recent theatrical release La Mujer de Mi Hermano was the first title in that deal. With more than 200 screens in nearly 20 major markets, La Mujer has had one of the largest openings for a Spanish-language film targeted to U.S. Latino audiences.

“We're very enthusiastic and hopeful that in a short period of time, we will be leading the Latino marketplace in a big way,” Chavez said.

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