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By Opening Movie Theaters, ‘Selena’ Producer Aims To Address ‘Entertainment Deserts’

On growing up going to the movies

“I grew up in Boyle Heights, the original suburb of Los Angeles, and there were three movie theaters within walking distance. Today, I live a few miles away from Boyle Heights, not far from where I grew up. And there are no movie theaters, and those movie theaters are now churches, or flea markets or they’ve been torn down. And all across the United States, the urban center core has pretty much been turned into an entertainment desert.

“I view entertainment as part of the needs of being human. Just as much as food and shelter are a need, we need to be able to get out of our head. We need to be able to dream. We need to be able to see something else as a possibility for our lives, and what we go through every day.”

On reaction to the theaters

“We have been resoundingly a success. And I knew it would be, because Latinos are reported by the Motion Picture Association [of America] as the highest frequency moviegoers of any ethnic group in the United States. We love movies, and we go as a group, we go as a family — and we go often. And so I knew that in these communities, actually, moviegoing — even though we are the most frequent moviegoer — was depressed, because people have to drive a long distance, and the further you are from a quality venue, the less often you go.

“We show first-run Hollywood films, and we take one or two screens and we specialty procure them with art films, documentaries, Spanish-language films, American Latino films — which is a completely different thing, not Spanish-language films. This is a separate category, and they

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