Spain's 3-D sector getting fired up

Screens more than double, but still below 100

MADRID -- The Spanish industry is looking at Friday's release of "Monsters vs. Aliens" as a defining moment.

"This weekend we'll be able to see how 3-D really works in Spain," said Jose Manuel Pimenta, GM of the AC Nielsen EDI office in Madrid. "Until now, the demand has overwhelmed the offer."

A frenzy of activity from Spanish exhibitors over the past few weeks has brought the number of screens prepped for 3-D distribution in Spain to 84 from just 30 at the beginning of the year.

But that's still a tiny percentage of the 3,565 screens nationwide.

Barcelona-based mini-studio Filmax said Thursday that it has added 3-D technology to one screen at its flagship property, the 15-screen Filmax Gran Via complex, and will add its Coruna and Castelldefels property to the growing list.

Filmax, which runs 40 screens at its four complexes, has opted for the XpanD system with active glasses, a Christie projector and Doremi server for the 3-D experience.

"Audiences are starting to demand 3-D ,and with the pirating situation as it is in Spain, the entertainment industry has to advance and we have to evolve," Filmax head of international Rafael Cabrera said.

Spain's largest exhibition chain, Cinesa, recently added DCI-compliant digital projectors to dozens of its theaters, bringing its offer to 25 screens within the past few weeks.

In December, Buena Vista released only 30 copies of "Bolt" in 3-D, which averaged an impressive €8,573 ($11,400) per copy in the first weekend, according to AC Nielsen EDI in Spain. The higher per-copy average is due partly to the increased ticket price for 3-D, with moviegoers paying €10 ($13) for 3-D screens, compared to €6.50 ($8.60) for 2-D.

Today, Paramount will release "Monsters vs. Aliens" on 84 3-D prints, plus three Imax prints, in addition to the 425 2-D versions.