Omar Chaparro and Jaime Camil play mariachi music singers in Pulling Strings. (Pantelion Films)
In the U.S., we have the liberty of being part of a massive load of diverse cultures from all over the world.
One of those cultures is that of Latin Americans. And, within the film industry, we are beginning to witness more and more projects that involve the participation of mixed casts: Latinos and Americans, for example.
Such is the case with the new romantic comedy Pulling Strings, a flick from the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company Pantelion Films.
Since it opened in 2010, the studio’s goal has been to offer more movies aimed at Latino audiences.
And it’s working.
Pitipol Ybarra, director of Pulling Strings, says that the subtitles help.
“Adding English subtitles is a strategy to penetrate the American public,” he said.
In 2011, Pantelion Films delivered From Prada to Nada, another romantic comedy that saw Camille Belle, Alexa Vega and Wilmer Valderrama play significant roles.
The studio went on to also release Saving Private Perez with Miguel Rodarte and Jesus Ochoa, Casa De Mi Padre with Will Ferrell, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, and Génesis Rodríguez, and Girl In Progress with Eva Mendes, Matthew Modine and Cierra Ramirez.
Then, earlier this year, Pantelion Films (a joint venture of Lionsgate and Televisa) took a big step when it dropped Instructions Not Included. The movie, which includes the likes of Eugenio Derbez and Jessica Lindsey, had a $5 million budget. As of now, it’s grossed well over $65 million at the box office.
Could Pulling Strings, which features Mexican actors Jaime Camil and Omar Chaparro, be the next Pantelion Films release to reach such a successful level? That’s hard to predict, but it should be.
Bilingual films, in this case a combination of English and Spanish, can penetrate not only Latinos, but Americans as well. Acclaimed actress Laura Ramsey plays a vital role in Pulling Strings, and she does it almost to perfection. It also helps that she’s a rather attractive woman.
“I don’t know if this is the new form of doing Latino cinema, but it’s been very beneficial to all of us,” said Chaparro. “We’ll continue to do this so that the Americans turn around and look at us. We ought to take this grand opportunity with hope to retake that golden cinema era we had back in the 1950s.”
Chaparro also said that the pleasant success that Instructions Not Included endured has opened the doors for other current and upcoming movies.
Thusly, is this a formula (Latino and American cast, English subtitles, romantic and dramatic comedies) that studios could very well utilize in future films?
Ybarra doesn’t think so, but he is happy for the riches Instructions Not Included has attained.
“In my personal case, I do not believe that it is a formula,” said Ybarra with no hesitation. “…It is the most pleasant surprise what is happening with Eugenio’s movie; we are very glad to be in this inertia. But the formula is to stop seeing the movies as Mexican movies or Latin movies. They’re just movies.”
“This is the first thing people have to realize, that these are just movies like any other movie. They are universal. Fortunately, they’re now coming to light,” he added.
Camil took a different approach when answering.
“I don’t know, but I do believe there are no formulas,” he said. “Because if it were a formula, then, imagine, everyone will follow them and the result would be the same at the box office. More than anything, it’s a gut feeling.”
And Pantelion Films has used that gut feeling, especially this year, and it’s turning out to be an epic ride for them.
Staff Reporter Ramon Aviles contributed to this story.