By Nina Terrero
March 18, 2014 at 10:35 PM EDT
Cesar Chavez Film (2014)


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Pantelion Films is partnering with the makers of the new smart phone translation app myLingo to provide a Spanish audio track for tech-savvy Spanish-speaking moviegoers who plan to see the biopic César Chávez when it opens in theaters March 28. The movie — about Mexican-American civil rights activist and labor rights leader César Chávez — was filmed almost entirely in English with lead actors Michael Peña, America Ferrera, and Rosario Dawson. But rather than risk missing out on ticket sales among a core audience of Spanish-speaking moviegoers, Pantelion seized the chance to roll out its first-ever tech partnership in order to provide real-time film translation services with use of a smart phone and earbuds.

“We tried it internally, and it’s so interesting,” says Pantelion director of publicity Jose Rodriguez of the app, which will charge users $1.99 to download a Spanish-language audio track that will play in sync with the onscreen film. “It’s a great way for the Spanish-speaking audience to watch César Chávez. We don’t want language to be a barrier — this way, a moviegoer can take their abuelita to the movie and the entire family can enjoy it.”

The partnership represents a deliberate intersection between technology and media in appealing to U.S. Hispanics, who purchase 25 percent of all movie tickets but represent just 18 percent of the population, according to the most recent figures published by the Motion Picture Association of America. Latinos are also extremely tech-savvy, using technology more than non-Hispanics. Approximately 72 percent of Latinos over the age of 18 own a smart phone, according to a recent Nielsen survey, nearly 10 percentage points higher than the national average. They adopt new technology at faster rates too, Nielsen found, with nearly half of Latinos saying that they planned to upgrade their smart phones in the next six months. Those are a lot of numbers, but they make the use of smart phones to enhance the moviegoing experience across a multi-generational, bilingual audience “smart business,” says Olenka Polak, co-founder of myLingo.

“This will allow families to attend movies together in a way that simply hasn’t existed before,” says Polak, who grew up in a Polish-speaking household and left undergraduate studies at Harvard in 2012 to create the app with her brother Adam. “By making it possible for moviegoers to watch a film in the language they feel most comfortable with, Hollywood can now tap into specific audiences in a way that’s powerful — and profitable.”

The app — which will be available on both Android and iOS operating systems — is a part of an extensive, bilingual marketing plan that Pantelion has launched to promote César Chávez .  After all, this is the studio whose 2013 film Instructions Not Included, broke records as the highest-grossing Spanish-language release in the United States thanks to an extensive, grassroots, bilingual marketing campaign.

“We’re doing everything we did for that movie and more,” Rodriguez said of Pantelion’s marketing campaign for César Chávez, which includes college campus screenings, numerous cross-country red carpet events, grassroots outreach, extensive media buys, a premiere at SXSW (where it won an Audience Award), bilingual multi-platform coverage, and a private White House screening.

But that’s not to say that Pantelion isn’t disregarding traditional movie release tactics entirely. In case you were wondering, the studio is planning to release a Spanish-language dubbed version of César Chávez in select cities nationwide.


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