Spain's boxoffice grew 9% in '09

Homegrown films post 35% gain

MADRID -- Overall Spanish boxoffice figures for 2009 soared 9% to a record €675 million ($973 million), according to Nielsen EDI's preliminary 2009 figures.

"Up" earned the most in 2009 with €25.1 million ($36.2 million), followed closely by "Avatar" at €24 million ($34.6 million) -- though the latter has since passed Disney/Pixar's film. As of Monday, "Avatar" had earned €30.7 million ($44.3 million) and was still gathering steam.

With 110 million ticket sales, the Spanish boxoffice grew 1% over its previous record year, 2004. In 2008, Spain earned €619 million ($892.7 million) off of some 107 million ticket sales.

Last year started with a strong 10% jump in gross in the first six months from 2008's first half figures, but the parched months of August and September sent overall figures spiraling downwards and creating an overall grim outlook.

"The good numbers are thanks to a crop of commercially-viable films, the implantation of 3D technology in Spanish cinemas and a bumper crop of Spanish productions," said Arturo Guillen, general manager of Nielsen EDI's Spain office.

Official figures from the Culture Ministry generally aren't presented until February.

But in Spain, the big news was the unprecedented figure for Spanish cinema, which Nielsen predicts will gross more than €100 million ($144.2 million) -- a 35% jump from 2008's €81 million.

Strong performances in the fourth quarter by Spain's most expensive feature to date, the animated "Planet 51," along with spoof "Spanish Movie" and prison drama "Cell 211" have buoyed Spanish films' share of the local boxoffice to 15%, up from the 13% of the past two years.

"With just four films ['Cell 211' 'Planet 51,' 'Agora' and 'Spanish Movie'], the Spanish industry has earned more than €47 million [$67.8 million], more than half of last year's draw," Guillen said.

In the past, one or two strong films pushed up the periodic peaks -- generally speaking, every two or three years -- in the Spanish industry's boxoffice pull.

But 2009's figures are thanks to a handful of homegrown films in a range of genres that have made a splash at the boxoffice, including Alejandro Amenabar's "Agora" -- which has snagged some €21 million ($30.3 million) thus far.
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