Billboard might be stretching things a bit when they suggest that Romeo Santos' 10-second speaking part during Furious 7 had a major impact on Latin American audiences attending the film...but they were certainly on-point in noting the trend. More than 37 percent of the tickets sold to the record-breaking film have been purchased by Latin viewers, compared to 25 percent by Caucasians and 24 percent by African-Americans.
What's the deal?
Few films do as much as the Furious series to feature a wide range of diversity throughout its headlining cast, but no culture is as well-represented as Latin American. Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster have appeared in a majority of the films—and while Vin Diesel himself may be "of ambiguous ethnicity," he has hinted that there's Latin blood in there as well.
Although Furious 7 takes place in a number of locations worldwide, the last two entries in the film series have made themselves at home in nations more in-touch with Latino audiences: Brazil for Fast Five and Fast & Furious bounces between the Dominican Republic, Panama City and Mexico.
Casting directors have done their parts to provide guest stars that fit the locations, as well as appealing to Latino demographics, including Puerto Rican vocalist Tego Calderón and reggaeton vocalist Don Omar. The latter performer appeared on every soundtrack in the series from Tokyo Drift to Fast & Furious 6.
Bob Berney, a film distributor CEO, described Latin stars as attractions unto themselves, similar to teen heartthrobs such as Justin Bieber: "They tweet and their fans go."
Whatever the explanation, Universal had better keep doing it when the forthcoming Furious 8 hits theaters during 2017.