Tip of the Movie Iceberg

Support for Empire will translate into more Latino films

By Premiere Weekend Club
Published on LatinoLA: December 2, 2002

Tip of the Movie Iceberg

"Empire" is the story of street-wise gangster Victor Rosa's (played by John Leguizamo) quest for the American Dream as he tries to escape his criminal past and the violent streets of the South Bronx. Determined to make a legitimate life for himself and his new family, Victor partners with a powerful Wall Street investment banker only to find out that money is dirty everywhere. For the first time, Victor is confronted with a price tag that he will find difficult to pay. It opens in theatres nationwide on December 6.

"Empire" has been getting great word of mouth in the preview screenings that have been held around the country. There has been a tremendous response to the trailers and promotional materials for the film. There is genuine buzz for this film and anticipation is building in the community. We are confident this film will be successful on opening weekend and, because of word-of-mouth, for many weeks to follow. But that is just a small part of why we are passionate about "Empire" and think it is an important film to rally around.

We are supporting this film because it is the first film of Arenas Entertainment, the first major Latino Production and Distribution company, which recently forged an unprecedented co-production/distribution deal with Universal Pictures. Arenas Entertainment is poised to be the first truly successful Latino film company. The success of "Empire" will put Arenas in a strong position to produce and distribute several Latino films a year for years to come. In addition, the success of Arenas Entertainment will motivate other studios to forge similar deals with other Latino companies.

Up until just a year ago, the picture was bleak for Latino film in Hollywood. Hollywood had been for years averaging just one Latino film production a year. There was not a single Latino President or Vice President at any studio. There are many reasons for the lack of opportunities for Latinos in Hollywood, but the lack of leadership, the absence of any Latinos having their hands on the levers of the highest levels of power, has been one of the prime reasons we've seen so few Latino films produced and distributed in Hollywood.

Also, up until a year ago, Arenas Entertainment was known as the Arenas Group, a marketing company that specialized in promoting films to Latino audiences. The CEO of Arenas, Santiago Pozo, made his mark in public relations and was considered an expert in marketing. At our Premiere Showcase Awards we honored Pozo with the Premiere Marketing Award, without realizing at that time that his many accomplishments up to that point were really just the tip of the iceberg.

Pozo, through drive, hard work, and chutzpah, has managed to do what no one before him had accomplished. With the creation of Arenas Entertainment, he boldly stepped into the leadership void and put himself in the position to develop, produce, acquire, and distribute Latino pictures, with the financial backing of Universal Pictures and the Spanish powerhouse company, Marco Polo.

Pozo and his Arenas staff of very bright, talented, and driven Latinos are toiling day and night, burning the midnight oil, to make this film a big success. (Of all the film companies we have worked with, Arenas is the first one whose staffers are as crazy as we are, exchanging e-mails with us late into the night, and on Saturdays and Sundays!). Arenas is doing their part, and we need to do ours.

We at the Premiere Weekend Club have established a nationwide infrastructure to promote Latino films through unconventional means. For "Empire," we've got great people in every major city (and several smaller ones!) passing out postcards, posters, buttons, and self-made fliers at every major college with high Latino populations, at clubs, coffeehouses, movie theaters, etc. We now have the capacity to reach over a million people nationwide with our e-mail blasts and will do so for "Empire." The Premiere Weekend Club's task with "Empire" is to organize the grass-roots promotional campaign, which means getting the word out on the streets, speaking with passion about this film and this company.

Friends, supporters, volunteers, actors, filmmakers, we know you have many aspirations and dreams, and hopes. You are hungry for equal opportunities for Latinos in Hollywood and to see more Latino films on the big screen. The images of Latinos on the big screen and the lack thereof have had very detrimental affects on society, especially on the self-image of young Latinos. Yes, Hollywood owes the Latino community. But understand that Hollywood will hand you nothing. Like Santiago Pozo did with Arenas, we need to seize any opportunity we can, and we need to do it creatively to compensate for not having the powerful resources of a Hollywood studio. Together, you, the Premiere Weekend Club, and Arenas Entertainment, stand poised on the brink of making history and seizing opportunities for Latino artists, executives, companies, and filmmakers. Together, we can accomplish many things and change Hollywood forever.

We may not have the millions of dollars of a Hollywood studio, but what we do have is emotion, passion, and drive. We can make this film a success by each of us around the country getting the word out in their communities. This battle can be won house by house, block by block, town by town, and college by college. Arenas Entertainment has the potential to bring about monstrous change in Hollywood. We have the ability to help make this happen. Let's do it!

We have already made many accomplishments with our support of Latino films
that have been released over the last few years. And we will not rest. Today, we support "Empire." After we this film achieves it's success, we will move to the next battleground. And then on to the next. We will neverwaver or retreat. Let those who run Hollywood hear us loud and clear: You are making hundreds of millions of dollars each year off of the massive, and rapidly growing, Latino audience in the United States. This audience craves more Latino films, and they're going to get them...

About Premiere Weekend Club:
More on the Premiere Weekend Club at http://www.premiereweekend.org

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