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Lucha Libre enlists heavyweight expertise to help push into U.S.

April 12, 2013|By Dawn C. Chmielewski
  • Part of Starlight Runner Entertainment's mission will be to adapt Luche Libre characters such as Xtreme Tiger for the U.S. audience.
Part of Starlight Runner Entertainment's mission will be to adapt… (LuchaLibreAAA.com )

The firm that helped reboot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and adapt Hasbro's Transformers toy line for big (and small) screens is charged with a new task: helping Mexican wrestling characters successfully cross the border into the United States.

Partners FactoryMade Ventures and Lucha Libre AAA wrestling have retained Starlight Runner Entertainment, a company that specializes in helping ensure that characters and stories remain consistent as they traverse different types of media, to help reimagine the popular sport for American and international audiences.

"We're being engaged ... to take something that’s popular somewhere else, redesign it, create new characters and new narratives and adapt it to new technologies," said Starlight Runner Chief Executive Jeff Gomez.

Lucha Libre, a name that translates to "free fighting," got its start in Mexico in the 1930s and has grown to be one of the most popular sports in the country, second only to soccer. The Lucha Libre AAA wrestling league was founded in 1992 by Antonio Pena Herrada and now attracts 1 million people a year to its live events. Its television audience is even broader, reaching 52 million viewers.

Although the Lucha Libre is carried on Spanish-language channels across the United States, it has yet to break through to a broader audience like World Wrestling Entertainment.

Starlight Runner has been charged with analyzing Lucha Libre AAA's library of 250 characters, known as luchadores, and to distill the brand's essence, including signature wrestling moves, story lines and popular  traits. Once this information is compiled in a "bible," it will inform the creation of a new league for American Latinos and the youth market.

"We're going to analyze what the aspirational elements have been for the Mexicans. Then, we’re going to use our research skills to discern the differences, culturally, between Mexicans in Mexico and second- and third-generation Latinos here in the United States," said Gomez. "What we’re really doing is putting our arms deep into the engines of this and recalibrating it to be resonant with ... Latinos."

Jeff has worked on such blockbuster entertainment properties as Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean, " Microsoft Corp.'s "Halo," James Cameron's "Avatar," and Hasbro’s "Transformers."

Starlight Runner worked with Nickelodeon on its animated update of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, helping to identify the elements of the "heroes on a half shell" that appeal to audiences. For the Transformers toy line, Gomez and Chief Operating Officer Mark Pensavalle advised simplifying the mythology for the movies and other platforms.

With the masked characters of Lucha Libre, Starlight Runner has a different mission:

"This is going to be inviting other cultures to come to the Mexican culture and embrace it," said Pensavalle.

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