There are about 43 million Hispanics in the United States, and more than half of them speak Spanish frequently. Of course, there are nearly 300 million people total in the country, so for Hollywood, there may not be enough of an audience for movies centered on Hispanic characters, especially if the predominant language of those movies is Spanish. But thanks to the hype surrounding the Mexican filmmakers Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo Del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu, and the prideful excitement of actress Salma Hayek, Latin American cinema is superficially hot right now. Never mind that Spanish-language imports and homegrown indies marketed toward Latinos are not particularly big money-makers, the studios are presently interested in focusing on the "untapped" Latin market.

We've already witnessed partnerships between Lionsgate and Panamax, and between Warner Bros. and Cuaron's Esperanto Filmoj. Now Hayek is setting up another Latino division called Ventanazul; this one will be at MGM. The difference seems to be that neither Hayek or MGM is specifically interested in targeting Hispanic Americans. Instead, they plan to produce and distribute between two and four films with a Latino focus that are geared toward a wide, mainstream audience. I'm not sure how big they hope to be, but they'll have to do better than last year's Quinceañera, which had a lot of mainstream appeal and which was relatively successful considering its budget, but which still only made a couple million dollars. Hayek's last film hit, Frida, did much better, and her television success with Ugly Betty is huge, but neither one is specifically Latin-themed. So we'll have to see if a wide audience is accepting enough of Hispanic-centric movies to make the division work. It is especially interesting that MGM made this deal while Hayek is currently working on a Spanish-language project for Warner Bros.