To say it wasn’t the best week ever for the Latino community in Hollywood is an understatement. A few canceled projects and questionable casting choices had us thinking the Trump administration was now running Tinseltown. First, the coming-of-age television show The Gordita Chronicles got nixed after one season, then the motion picture debut of Batgirl starring Leslie Grace also got axed. Finally, for good measure Mr. Pineapple Express himself – James Franco – was cast as Fidel Castro. Wait…what?
The Gordita Chronicles
Even with a 100% Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the 4th most binged series of 2022 thus far and a cast and writing praised by critics and fans alike, none of it was enough to save Cu Cu Castelli and The Gordita Chronicles. The HBOMax series was a hit among critics and audiences and even had Latin Hollywood muscle thanks to Zoe Saldana and Eva Longoria’s involvement. Yet, it got canceled last week. The reason? A pivot away from family-oriented programming. If it provides a head scratching moment for you, you’re not alone.
The rationale for the decision is suspect at best. Since when did streaming platforms focus on one genre over another? The quality of content, critical and audience support were all present. And there is plenty of other family-oriented content on the platform. Which begs the question, why this show in particular?
This brings us to the motion picture debut of Batgirl, starring Leslie Grace, also set to drop on HBOMax. The film would have made Grace the first Afro-Latina actress to star in a superhero motion picture. Surely, a watershed moment for the Latino community and a “I can do it too” moment for little girls everywhere – black, brown and white.
To be fair, there have been many changes at the corporate level since Warner Bros. and Discovery merged, so agendas may have changed. Buzz has also been circulating that the studio could catch a nice tax break to the tune of $90 million (aka the film’s total production cost) if it got axed. Further, the Latino and comic book community are aware Batgirl isn’t an A-Side superhero. However, that has not stopped plans for other lesser superhero films already in the can to debut. Black Adam, Aquaman 2 and Shazam 2, whose productions costs are equal to if not larger, will be released.
Warner Bros. executives have officially stated the film was canceled due to a quality issue. More specifically, Warner Bros. Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav stated “We’re not going to put a movie out unless we believe in it. That’s it,” said Zaslav. “The objective is to grow the DC brand, to grow the DC characters, but also our job is to protect the DC brand, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
An odd position to take given that the buzz for Batgirl was palpable. Grace, the Dominican breakout star from In the Heights was set to have her breakthrough Hollywood moment; Michael Keaton, the original film Batman, was set to appear; more undisclosed Easter Eggs were rumored to have been planted. One thing is for certain, the same studio that faced backlash for the lack of Afro-Latino representation within the Heights keeps the hits coming.
James Franco as Fidel Castro
Adding insult to injury, it was announced that James Franco has been cast as Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in the upcoming feature film Alina de Cuba. This was probably the most head scratching of all moments.
Criticism has been quick and consistent. Most notably from Emmy-winning Colombian actor John Leguizamo and The View co-host Ana Navarro. Kudos to both for taking a stand, as spending goodwill capital in Hollywood can be a risky proposition.
Some users have attempted to point to Ana de Armas casting Marylin Monroe in the upcoming biopic Blonde as a double standard. But if memory serves us, critics and insiders alike have been critiquing the de Armas casting for the very same reason. So, it’s not okay for a Latina to play a Hollywood icon, but it is okay for a white male to play an infamous Latino figure known the world over? Talk about gaslighting.
The business world, and even the entertainment industry, always use numbers and data to support their decisions. How often is the phrase “number don’t lie” bandied about?
Well, the most recent UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report found that movies with 21%-30% of cast members from BIPOC backgrounds tend to have the strongest returns at the box office, while films with less-diverse casts perform worse. There are 500 million Latinos across the world. Do the math people!
As a consumer/fan I can’t make casting decisions, greenlight a film or the like. So, I’ve decided to speak with my wallet. If a platform doesn’t want to provide the content I want, such The Gordita Chronicles or Batgirl, I don’t want the platform.
My hope is I’ll get one of those surveys a platform sends for feedback when you cancel a subscription. My reply will be, since you decided to cancel my community, I decided to cancel you!