Latino movie producer opens theaters in rural, poor areas

Latino movie producer opens theaters in rural, poor areas
In this May 17, 2018 photo, McFarland High senior Victoria Sharp works at the food concession and is one of the high school students that acquired one of the coveted jobs at the Maya Cinemas Theater in Delano, Calif. For around a decade, the farm worker city of Delano, has lacked a movie theater. Residents from this largely Latino community had to travel nearly 40 miles to see the latest film a drive advocates say was rare since around a third of the population lives in poverty. This week, Moctesuma Esparza, a well-known Latino movie producer, opened his latest Maya Cinemas theater this month in the Central California city of 53,000 people as part of his ongoing effort to open movie theaters in poor, U.S. rural areas that lack basic entertainment options. (Henry A. Barrios/The Bakersfield Californian via AP)

A Latino movie producer is opening theaters in poor, rural areas in the U.S. that lack basic entertainment options, giving unserved audiences a chance to dream.

Moctesuma Esparza opened his latest Maya Cinemas theater last month in Delano, California.

The movie theater is the fifth that Esparza has opened in rural areas with majority Latino populations. Esparza says residents in rural towns and cities often have to travel more than an hour to watch a movie since many small theaters have closed.

Rural communities in Appalachia, the American Southwest and the Mississippi Delta have seen small theaters close due to the high cost of technology updates and to economic downturns that discourage investors.

New Mexico is pushing an initiative to revitalize downtown districts in isolated, small towns by rehabilitating aging, historic theaters.

Esparza produced the 1997 movie “Selena.”