MPAA Chief Chris Dodd: Hollywood Needs to Attract Hispanic Audiences

Chris Dodd, Hollywood’s top lobbyist, says Hollywood needs to figure out ways to appeal to Hispanics beyond tokenism

MPAA chief Chris Dodd argued on Tuesday that Hollywood is ignoring the Hispanic population at its own peril.

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Hispanics, he said, make up 16 percent of the U.S. population, but they represent more than one-quarter of the moviegoing audience.

“I am confident we can do a better job of serving this growing population with themes that resonate strongly with them,” he told the audience at CinemaCon, the exhibition trade show taking place in Las Vegas this week.

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Hollywood has had a hard time finding a way to cater to the Spanish-language moviegoing audience, even as television has been forging paths for new cable and other networks that appeal to that growing demographic.

“The numbers just jumped out at me,” Dodd told reporters at a briefing at CinemaCon on Tuesday. “I think an effort ought to be made to work at that.”

Yet, he said, Hollywood has to be careful about how it tries to attract this burgeoning audience by not merely making movies in Spanish or presuming that a single cultural approach would find broad appeal.

He said movie studios must ensure that they were not engaging in tokenism.

“You’ve got to be more sensitive about the subject matter than to just have Spanish subtitles,” Dodd said.

Dodd is himself fluent in Spanish, having worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic in his youth.

Hollywood’s top lobbyist said he was not sure if the push should come in terms of the movies that the industry produces or in the way it markets its films.

He did say that the movie business has been much more effective at attracting other demographic groups to the theaters, citing Tyler Perry and the movies he has made for African-American audiences.