Maya Cinemas Is The Latino-Owned Movie Theater Chain Bringing Latino Stories To Underserved Latino Neighborhoods

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According to the Motion Picture Association of America’s annual statistical report, Latinos made up 23 percent of movie tickets purchased in the U.S. last year. However, there is an underlying problem to this statistic. There is a lack of movie theaters in predominantly Latino neighborhoods, especially in Central California, and Moctesuma Esparza, famous for producing “Selena,” is trying to change that. Esparza is the owner of Maya Cinemas, which opened its first theater in 2003 in Salinas, California, a predominantly working class Latino community. His mission is to bring movies to these undeserved communities.

Moctesuma Esparza is bringing movie theaters to Latino neighborhoods even as overall ticket sales decline.

Maya Cinemas has opened its fifth movie theater in Delano, California, despite ticket sales declining. The working class Latino neighborhood, where Cesar Chavez helped organize a labor strike in 1965, didn’t have an operating movie theater for 10 years and is an example of the need Esparza is trying to fill with his movie theater chain.

Latinos make up nearly double the movie sales among all minorities in the United States at 23 percent.

“The market is underserved, and it’s the market that contributes more than any other to the bottom line of Hollywood,” Santiago Pozo, founder of Latino-focused marketing firm Arenas Entertainment, said in an interview with the LA Times. “It’s a community that really goes to movies.”

Maya Cinemas hopes to expand beyond California and into more predominantly Latino communities around the United States.

According to The Undefeated, Esparza is growing outside of California. There is currently a theater under construction in Las Vegas and eventually will follow up in Texas and Arizona.

Esparza has been an advocate for the representation of Latinos in mainstream media.

Esparza was an organizer during the 1968 Chicano student walkouts in East LA. In support of independent filmmakers who haven’t been able to get a theatrical distribution, Esparza has launched a program at his movie theaters will air their films.

Latino representation is needed more than ever in mainstream media.

While Latinos make up 18 percent of the U.S. population, they were represented by just 3 percent of speaking parts in the Top 100 films in 2016.


READ: Watch These Latino Movies And Try To Say You Aren’t Proud To Be A Latino

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