Will Ferrell might do pretty much anything for a laugh. But the "Saturday Night Live" alumnus faces an unusual test this weekend, with the premiere of his "Casa de Mi Padre."
The $6-million spoof of Mexican soap operas, which costars Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal, is almost completely in Spanish. Ferrell learned his lines phonetically and all of the dialogue is subtitled. The parody, produced by Nala Films and distributed into about 350 theaters by Pantelion Films, is courting two distinct audiences: the English-speaking ticket buyers who attend Ferrell's big-studio comedies like "Anchorman" and Latinos who have broad moviegoing interest.
The marketing opportunities, as well as the challenges, are the topic of this week's Word of Mouth column. Above is a video preview.
One of the most-publicized scenes from Will Ferrell’s new film “Casa de Mi Padre” shows the comedian with a couple of ranch hands at a campfire, singing the song “Yo No Se.” Translated into English, the chorus means “I Don’t Know,” which might describe how hard it is categorize the movie itself.
Opening Friday in limited national release of about 380 theaters, “Casa de Mi Padre” is a $6-million Spanish-language parody that its makers hope will play equally well to fans of Ferrell’s comedies and Latino moviegoers. Ferrell has made a number of promotional appearances on TV prgrams such as CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman,” ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and NBC’s “Today,” but you’re far more likely to find “Casa de Mi Padre” commercials on variety shows like Univisión’s “Sábado Gigante” and “El Gordo y La Flaca.”
“It’s a tough film to put in a marketing box,” said Darlene Caamano Loquet, whose Nala Films financed the movie that Ferrell’s company, Gary Sanchez Productions, developed. “But it’s one of those movies that can bring those two audiences together.”
Latinos make up more than 16% of the U.S. population, but can often account for a larger proportion of ticket buyers, particularly for family and genre films. At the same time, any number of movies that have tried to target the Spanish-speaking audience — including “A Better Life,” “Selena” and “The Perez Family” — have failed to sell many tickets.
“Casa de Mi Padre” is an R-rated spoof not only of telenovelas, or Spanish-language soap operas, but also spaghetti Westerns and 1970s B movies. Ferrell plays the not-too-bright Armando Alvarez, a member of a Mexican ranch family drawn into a drug war. The cast includes Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna and Genesis Rodriguez. Early reviews have been mixed to negative.
“It gives us a chance to laugh at ourselves, which Hispanic Americans are not given a chance to do,” Loquet said.