'In The Heights' is getting a boost from Latinos across the nation and San Antonio
When "In The Heights" debuts this weekend, it will have a multi-cultural backing in more than 70 theaters nationwide, including one in San Antonio. When "In The Heights" debuts this weekend, it will have a multi-cultural backing in more than 70 theaters nationwide, including one in San Antonio. Raymond Arturo Perez, a staff writer for the second season of Netflix's Selena series, teamed up with fellow San Antonian Lindsey Villarreal to buy out a Sunday showing of the Jon M. Chu-directed film that's expected to be an exciting display of the Latino experience in upper Manhattan. The duo spent more than $800 to buy every seat in the downtown AMC theater as part of the #LatinxGoldOpen, a concerted, shoulder-to-shoulder effort between the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community and Latinos to ensure opening weekend success for the film. Perez said National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) supported Gold House through the #GoldOpen movement for "Crazy Rich Asians," a culture touchstone for many in the Asian community. The group reached out Gold House as "In The Heights" was approaching for direction on mirroring the success for the upcoming release. Gold House was "more than happy" to join forces with the Latino organization to give "In the Heights" a boost. It's a first-time movement for the two groups to prove to studios that diversity and inclusion is important. Though cultural backgrounds differ, Perez said minority groups share in the experience of being underrepresented in film and TV. During an interview this week on "The Tonight Show," Anthony Ramos, "In The Heights" lead, touched on the issue. "It was a special experience because, as a kid growing up, I never had a movie like this," Ramos, who plays Usnavi, told Jimmy Fallon. Perez echoed Ramos, saying Latinos want to "see a reflection of ourselves on the screen." The 2021 UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report found that Latinos made up only 5.4 percent of film leads in the top 200 theatrical/streaming movies in 2020. Perez said films like "In The Heights" only "get one shot." He said Melvin Van Peebles would also buy out theaters in the 1970s, during the Blaxploitation film era. In the 1990s, Moctesuma Esparza, deployed similar opening weekend boosts to send a message to Hollywood. "In order for us to able to continue telling nuanced and specific experiences of the Latinx communities we have to prove to studios that our stories connect with audiences," Perez said. "If studios look at low box office numbers they go, 'See it doesn't work' and then we aren't able to go further." The Hollywood Reporter reported that #LatinxGoldOpen campaign has received backing from Latinos such as Eugenio Derbez, America Ferrera and Eva Longoria. Groups like The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, the African American Film Critics Association, Define American and The Blackhouse Foundation are also on board. "I feel like sometimes it is difficult to get Latinx communities working together, I feel however that Latinx communities are recognizing that we are more powerful when we work together, despite having a wide array of experiences and cultures," he added. "I think it's our generation specifically that's going 'Hey, that ain't specifically me on screen, but that story is absolutely worthy of being told, we should tell it and ensure its success." The screening Perez and Villarreal are organizing will take place at AMC's Rivercenter theater at 6 p.m. on Sunday Seats are still available. Those interested in attending can contact Perez via Facebook. "We want to make sure we're telling studios 'There is an audience for this, please allow us to keep telling our stories,'" he said.