'Spanish Affair' Woos Audiences

Pedro Alborenoz
Spanish Affair

Ticket sales grew 57 percent in the second week, with Universal adding screens to answer to surprising demand.

MADRID – Emilio Martinez-Lazaro’s Spanish Affair has earned $12.3 million (€ 8.9 million) in its first two weeks in theaters, continuing its record-breaking run as the best opening at the Spanish box office this year and cornering 52 percent of this week’s earnings -- more than four times that of the second spot, Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

It also boasts the strongest domestic film opening in Spain since Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible in 2012. 

Produced by LaZona Films and Telecinco Cinema, the romantic comedy was released by Universal in Spain on 400 screens, earning an average of $9,084 (€7,075) per screen in its first three days. Universal expanded to 455 screens in the second week averaging $13,500 (€9790). Film Factory handles international sales.

Telecinco Cinema CEO Ghislain Barrois attributed the success to a strong product.

“We don’t try to reinvent moviemaking here. It’s a romantic comedy, but it works. It’s funny and romantic. That’s a tremendous challenge to balance and here it works,” Barrois said.

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But Barrois also is clear that the muscular marketing campaign waged by Telecinco's parent company, Mediaset, was crucial in landing the film a spot in the all-time top 15 openings in Spanish film history.

“When you have a well-rounded product and add a colossal campaign like the one designed by Mediaset, it is mind-blowing,” said the producer, who has steered Telecinco to market successes like The Impossible. “The first trailer went out at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the most seen broadcast in Spain.”

Well-positioned commercials also ran across Mediaset’s eight channels during key moments like big soccer games, such as the Spain-Italy friendly last week.

Spain’s economic output is expected to grow in the first quarter of 2014 for the first time since 2011, following last quarter’s official end to the two-year recession. But unemployment still sits at 26 percent and Spaniards are still waiting to feel some relief from the financial crisis.

“With all that going on in Spain, people don’t want to go to the movies to suffer," said Barrois. "They want to enjoy and escape.”