LOS ANGELES, Oct. 2 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Just seven months into its launch, Maya Entertainment, a vertically integrated, full-service motion picture production and distribution company targeting the growing entertainment interests of Latinos living in the U.S., has established itself as a force in Hollywood. With a strong executive team of experienced film and television veterans in place, Maya Entertainment is going for the jugular by snatching up several noteworthy films that are garnering industry buzz and critical acclaim.
“This is a very exciting time for us,” said Maya Entertainment founder, Moctesuma Esparza. “We have put together a dream team of industry leaders who understand the complex entertainment tastes of the Latino market. Since the launch we have moved with extraordinary velocity and are already seeing great results. In March we saw the biggest opening for a Latin movie in Puerto Rico with ‘Maldeamores’ until ‘Talento de Barrio’ opened, which not only surpassed ‘Maldeamores’ but also ‘Dark Knight’ on opening weekend.”
The company is the first Latino owned and operated, production, distribution, and exhibition entity in the U.S. to focus specifically on bringing culturally relevant entertainment to the over 45 million Latinos living in the U.S., responsible for purchasing 297 million box office tickets this summer alone.
Maya Entertainment is co-chaired by serial entrepreneur Jeff Valdez, founder and chairman of SiTV, who brings his expertise of the growing young, media-savvy generation of Latinos born in the U.S., that prefer speaking English and have an average age of 18.
“For too many years Hollywood has ‘talked’ about the ‘Latino Wave’; we plan to capitalize on it. Latino youth are among the country’s fastest growing demographic,” said Valdez. “We get the market because our principles and employees are the market.”
Also on board are Jose Martinez, previously of Palm Pictures, heading up acquisitions and business affairs; Michael Harpster, formerly of New Line Cinema, now CEO of Maya Releasing; Jeff Gonzalez, who was CFO at National Lampoon and Trimark, now assumes the role of COO and CFO, and Sonia Rosario, an Emmy-nominated leader in the arena of creative development, who heads up marketing.
Utilizing a multi-platform structure, the company develops and produces content for distribution on all platforms via its various divisions, including Maya Cinemas, Maya Releasing, Maya Entertainment Home Video, and Maya Productions.
“Because of the way we have structured the company, we are able to fully support the life of a film from the production through theatrical release and retail via home video along with numerous other ancillary markets,” said Gonzalez.
Maya Releasing has successfully distributed several key movies this year including HOW THE GARCIA GIRLS SPENT THEIR SUMMER starring “Ugly Betty” star America Ferrera, MALDEAMORES produced by actor Benicio del Toro, AUGUST EVENING, winner of the Cassavetes Award at the 2008 Spirit Awards, urban Latin film TALENTO DE BARRIO, starring Latin phenomenon Daddy Yankee, and AMEXICANO, which made its world premiere at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. The company plans to leverage its cinemas as outlets for all future theatrical releases.
With its flagship located in Salinas, CA, seven other Maya Cinema theaters are currently under construction in California, New Mexico, Nevada, Chicago, Dallas, and New York. Within five years, Maya Cinemas plans to offer between 400 and 500 screens in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago where film attendance by Latino audiences continues to surpass all other groups.
In addition, via a strategic partnership with Wal-Mart, Maya Entertainment Home Video has effectively tapped into the store’s lucrative DVD business, which accounts for 50% of the domestic market for home entertainment. Already on the shelves is HOW THE GARCIA GIRLS SPENT THEIR SUMMER, which is expected to perform well across demographic lines. All Maya releases are slated for home video distribution via Maya Entertainment Home Video.
To date Maya Entertainment has picked up 30 home video titles and 10 theatrical titles with buzz including SLEEP DEALER, a futuristic Sci-Fi feature, which received the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. They have also picked up the critically acclaimed FRAUDE MEXICO 2006, by Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Luis Mandoki, and most recently MANCORA, one of this year’s most talked about films at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
“We want to cultivate and support Latino filmmakers who have powerful stories to tell that audiences everywhere can relate to,” remarked Martinez. “Sleep Dealer and Fraude both have universal themes of struggle and validation that will resonate with Latino and non-Latino audiences alike.”
While the focus has been on acquisitions so far, Maya Entertainment is in active development and will be producing several films in the next year.
About Maya Entertainment
Maya Entertainment, headed by award winning producer Moctesuma Esparza and co-chaired by Jeff Valdez, is the only Latino owned and managed filmed entertainment company specifically focused on the growing U.S. Latino film-going audience. Maya Entertainment will release 8 to 10 films theatrically and 24 straight-to-DVD releases a year and will soon announce its feature film and television production slate, which is currently set to commence production in 2009. Maya Entertainment is the sister company of Maya Cinemas North America, Inc. a movie theater exhibition company featuring state-of-the-art multiplex cinemas with a site in Salinas, CA and new sites soon to be opened in Bakersfield, CA, Fresno, CA, Santa Fe, NM, Chicago, IL, San Antonio, TX, Houston, TX, New York and more.