Spain's cinema admits continue to fall

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MADRID -- Almost 20 million fewer tickets were sold last year at Spanish cinemas as the number of films released and the number theaters to watch them in fell, according to figures released this week by the Culture Ministry's Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts.

In 2007 -- the third consecutive year for declining film attendance in Spain -- only 102 million people went to the movies, down from 121 million during the previous year.

U.S. films, which dominate the sector, suffered a drop of 17 million tickets sold last year, while 5.8 million fewer tickets were sold for Spanish productions, the ICAA reported on its Web site.

The top earner in the territory was "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" at 21 million  euros ($30.8 million) from 3.9 million spectators, followed by "Shrek the Third" with 20.9 million euros ($30.6 million) from 3.8 million tickets sold.

In third was the Spanish horror blockbuster "The Orphanage," which earned 19 million euros ($27.9 million) from 3.4 million moviegoers.

The remainder of the top 10 was filled out by U.S. productions, led by "Spider-Man 3." The next highest earner among Spanish films, following "The Orphanage," was "REC" in 25th place, earning 4.4 million euros from 780,000 tickets.

In total, 1,620 films were released in Spain last year, 128 fewer than in 2006.

Hollywood productions, which saw a drop of 49 releases in Spain compared with 2006, earned 318 million euros ($466.22 million), or 72 million euros ($105.6 million) less, and saw their market share slip from 71.2% to 68.1%.

Spanish films, of which there were 35 fewer releases in 2007 compared to the previous year, took in 71 million euros ($104.1 million), or 27 million euros ($39.6 million) less than in 2006, according to the ICAA figures.

A spokesman for the Spanish Federation of Cinemas, which represents theater owners, declined comment on the figures, saying the association directors were still studying them.

But in the past, the federation has blamed the fall in audience numbers on DVD sales and rentals and other forms of home entertainment such as the Internet and Spain's ever-expanding choice of television channels.

Meanwhile, the number of Spanish cinemas also fell, from 936 in 2006 to 889 last year for a total loss of 49 screens.
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