2009 Box Office Review - Spain - Part 1
Another country with a record-breaking year, Spain delivered €675 million in box office gross, up 8% from last year, with ticket sales of 110 million admissions across the 398 released titles. 3D ticket sales increased 37% this year and the higher price, combined with a robust domestic film slate, helped to propel the overall good numbers. There are 286 Spanish theatres equipped with digital projectors, compared to 53 in 2008, primarily as a result of €32 million in private investment technology upgrade.
The top three releases in Spain, Fox’s “Avatar” (€31 million), which ranked first, Disney’s “Up” (€25.2 million) at second and Fox’s “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” (€21.8 million) were all released in 3D.
Placing fourth for the year was Alejandro Amenabar’s historical epic “Agora” which showed an impressive €11.5 thousand theater average for its opening weekend and bested the other top performing titles as well as all of last year’s domestic titles. It went on to gross €21.2 miilion at the box office in ’09 and become the second most successful local film in the country’s history.
The market share for Spanish film is 15%, up 2% from the 13% share of the past two years. Domestic films’ box office earnings exceeded €100 million, an increase of almost 35% compared to ‘08’s €81 million.
Aurum/Alliance’s “Twilight New Moon” took the best overall per screen average with €12.7 thousand across 636 screens for an €8 million opening weekend. By the end of the year, “Twilight New Moon” had earned €20.1 million in cumulative box office gross and placed fifth for the year. The original “Twilight” installment, released in December ’08, earned €11.8 million in cumulative gross box office.
Sony had the next two top performers with “Angels & Demons” (€15.9 million) and “2012” (€15.2 million), followed by Warner’s “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” (€14.1 million) and Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” (€12.9 million).
Warner’s “Curious Case of Benjamin Button” starring Brad Pitt placed number ten with earnings of €12.2 million.
A Spanish co-production and the most expensive Spanish film to date, animated adventure comedy “Planet 51”(€10 million), couldn’t break the top ten but did land at #11 with revenues of €11.6 million.
Spanish local production is supported by private equity funding of films through an 18% investor tax credit (introduced in 2008) and increased broadcaster participation in production. Broadcasters are required to invest 5% of their turnover in local films and this has been the lifeblood of the film industry here for many years. However, this obligation is currently a hotly debated topic.
Last year, Telecinco invested in 10 projects, but with the obligation likely dropping to 3% this year and film delivering some diminishing returns for broadcasters, Telecinco’s involvement in Spanish film may decline.
Antena 3 Films, through its 5% quota obligation, backed local projects such as “Lope” and “Brain Drain” this year and invested in major international projects such as Paul Greengrass’ “Green Zone” and Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger.”
Spanish producers working on international co-productions usually find themselves as the minority partner, with their European co-producers using Spain to secure between 20% and 40% of the budget through the territory’s subsidies and a TV pre-sale.
Ellen Pittleman, http://hybridentus.com, is a veteran studio executive based in Los Angeles. Most recently, she served as SVP, International Co-Productions and Worldwide Acquisitions for Paramount Pictures. She also launched the DVD Premiere group there, with films including Jonathan Demme’s “Neil Young: Heart of Gold” and the sequel to the $100MM+ “Save the Last Dance.” Working from a marketing and distribution perspective, she consults on strategic planning, deal negotiation, acquisitions, film library valuation and feature development with clients from Rio to London to Beijing. She’s also currently developing a feature on George Foreman’s comeback years, among other projects.