2009 Box Office Review - Spain - Part 3
Fox’s local hit “Agora” opened to a weekend gross of €5.4m across 472 screens scoring the highest theater average of €11.5k as well as capturing the top box office position for a domestic film. It is the story of an Egyptian slave who turns to Christianity in the hopes of pursuing freedom while falling in love with his master, a philosopher and atheist.
The next best performing Spanish title, local distributor’s Deaplaneta’s animated “Planet 51” (€11.6m) had the widest release of any Spanish film with 509 screens and was a Spanish/UK co-production.
Paramount’s “Cell 211,” based upon Francisco Perez Gandul’s 2004 novel "Celda 211" and a studio financed local language production, took third place at the domestic box office with €11.1 in grosses followed by “Spanish Movie’s” €7.6m take, which opened on 388 screens.
Fox low budget comedy from Gonzalez Molina, “Brain Drain” came in fifth place for locally originated titles and gave Fox’s local office three of the top five best performing Spanish titles.
Alta had a winner in “Secret in their Eyes” (€5.7m) as the word-of -mouth was quite good for this crime adaptation. “Secret,” the story of a retired criminal-court official who decides to write a novel about a rape and murder case that occurred in 1974 Argentina, only opened to €720K on its first weekend but went on to finish number six of the locally produced films. Despite close production ties due to the common language between Spain and Latin America, finished films made between the two regions are not guaranteed an audience at the Spanish box office. Juan Jose Campanella’s Argentinian-Spanish thriller “Secret” was an exception.
Filmax’s sequel “Rec 2” (€5.2m) finished seventh among the domestic films and 37th overall for the year.
Thirteen domestic films earned more than €2m at the box office from a total of 112 releases for the year.
Distributors and producers are eagerly awaiting some rulings this year because the Spanish government is increasing its support of the film industry in several ways. First, a new General Audiovisual Law should strengthen state support of individual films to €2m and more than double the funds available to Spanish distributors. Additionally, distributors may receive subsidies for Latin American and European productions rather than the present practice of only receiving support for qualifying Spanish films.
Also, the ICAA, Spain’s film institute, is introducing a new national €85m film fund which provides money to local projects and international co-productions. The reimbursement approach they intend to use takes many factors into consideration including box-office success, the size of a prints and ad spend, the geographic make-up of the release, the cultural relevancy, internet downloads, whether there is a 3D component to the production and release and festival awards, among other criteria to determine how much a film may receive. Upon review of the film’s performance in relation to the qualifying criteria, each film may be able to secure a full €800k per project. Local producers can also access up to €1.2m per project (including international co-productions) through the development/producer side of the new fund, as long as their own investment exceeds €3.5m and the project has been approved as officially Spanish.
Regionally, both Valencia and Catalonia have subsidies that are among Europe’s most generous and are unaffected by the new law. Valencia’s newly approved €18.9m subsidy system offers a tax rebate of up to 20% of local spend. In Catalonia, the regional government has an annual €21.8m film pot to support major projects. However, the new, eagerly anticipated initiative should spur local production in other regions of the country as well.
Spanish TV broadcaster investment in film most likely will get reduced from 5% to 3%. Spain’s constitutional authorities are already considering the legality of the TV quota system and while the law has been passed in Spain, it may be as late as April before the law is approved by the EU.
Local films including Andrucha Waddington’s action adventure “Lope,” Julio Medem’s romantic drama “Room in Rome” and Oscar Santos’ debut feature “El Mal Ajeno” are forthcoming this year.
The Barcelona-based MediaPro Group is producing the €20m “Las Madres De Elna” set during the Spanish Civil War as well as Woody Allen’s English language “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” starring Naomi Watts and Antonio Banderas.
Spain also appears to be taking a stronger approach to tackling piracy, which has plagued this market in a very severe way. A new law passing through parliament will allow the government’s anti-piracy commission to investigate any illegal sites and then file complaints to the federal court, which can then close a site and potentially take legal action against the owner. The new legislation, under the Sustainable Economy Bill, is expected to pass in the coming months.
Next: The UK
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.