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Spanish Buy

24 Nov, 2002 By: Dan Bennett

“Latinos are among the biggest consumers of entertainment in the country,” Peter Staddon, SVP of marketing for Fox Home Entertainment, told Video Store Magazine earlier this year. “We're making the product available to them in the way they want it to be available. This is an important market for us, and we want to find a way of satisfying their demands, just as we would any other group.”

Fox research shows that the Hispanic market outpaces any other ethnic group in movie attendance, and on the home video front, they spent an estimated $3.2 billion a year domestically on VHS and DVD last year.

With 35.3 million Hispanics in the United States and Hispanic Business magazine estimating their annual purchasing power at $499 billion, the numbers are there -- and then some.

A University of Georgia study, The Multicultural Economy: Minority Buying Power in the New Century, found that substantial gains have been made in income levels among minorities during the past 12 years and that further growth is expected during the next five years. By 2007, the combined buying power of African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans will total almost $1.4 trillion.

According to the DVD Release Report, more Spanish-language titles on DVD were released or scheduled for release in 2002 -- 66 total -- than in all the previous years of the format combined. At least 30 percent of Hispanic homes are reported to own DVD players.

Different suppliers are taking advantage of interest in Spanish-language product in different ways. Earlier this year, Fox started a consumer Web site, www.FoxHomeEnEspanol.com, and began releasing catalog DVD titles with new Spanish-language encoded tracks in addition to the English and French tracks, and with Spanish-language dubs and English subtitles on VHS.

Among the first releases were The Abyss, Anna and the King, Independence Day, Cast Away, Edward Scissorhands and Men of Honor.

Since then, a second wave in August saw the VHS releases of Alien, Behind Enemy Lines, Cocoon, Don't Say a Word, Doctor Dolittle 2, Kiss of the Dragon, Last of the Mohicans, True Lies and Mrs. Doubtfire.

Then there was the VHS-DVD release of Ice Age en Español, with well-known Hispanic voice talent dubbing the lines for the hit title.

On the way is the third wave of VHS titles from Fox, including Bedazzled, Fight Club, Moulin Rouge, The Beach, Tigerland and Dude, Where's My Car? at $9.98 each, and Black Knight, High Crimes, From Hell, Joe Somebody, Joyride and Shallow Hal at $14.98 each. This wave is scheduled for Feb. 4 release.

Paramount Home Entertainment, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Video and Warner Home Video regularly release Spanish-language versions of their hits. Complete packages are part of the DVD approach.

“It's not just the film now that's Spanish language,” Fritz Friedman, SVP, worldwide publicity, told Video Store Magazine in August. “It's the menus, the value-added materials, the packaging. It's an entirely Spanish product.”

Feisty smaller suppliers have stepped up and started increasing their releases of Spanish-language titles from other countries, imported for U.S. consumption. One is Vanguard Cinema, whose Vanguard En Español line is among the most prolific suppliers of such product. The label started in August 2001, with titles that had both English and Spanish packaging.

“Our plan was to release one to three new Spanish titles per month to the U.S., Canadian and Puerto Rican marketplace,” said Vanguard En Español sales manager Alex Xagorakis. “Having English and Spanish box designs caters to both Spanish-speaking and foreign-film viewers.

“The marketplace has grown over the past few years. Especially after reviewing the last census for the Spanish population in the United States, we knew the marketplace was going to open wider for retailers.”

Vanguard routinely reprices catalog titles on a bimonthly basis for the lower sellthrough price of $19.95.

“DVD has been picking up recently, with both the rental and sellthrough,” Xagorakis said. “DVD will take over VHS sales in a couple years if the trend doesn't slow down.”

Vanguard En Español offers more than 40 Spanish-language titles, including releases from Spain, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and the United States. Hit titles include El Jardin del Eden, Bandidos and El Grito.

Retailers are responding, Xagorakis said.

“Retailers and distributors are buying and stocking more product for both the rental and sellthrough markets,” Xagorakis said. “Vanguard Cinema has a core customer and distributor base that is doing very well. A lot more orders have been starting to come in from mass merchants, big chains, catalogs and Web sites.”

Facets Video, another respected supplier in the foreign-language and art-house film category, has just launched its Cinemateca line, dedicated to releasing Spanish-language titles from around the world.

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