Spanish Box Office: Homegrown Films Reach Record Market Share

Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival

Damian Szifron's 'Wild Tales' and other hot titles are expected to futher boost figure

Spanish films have snagged a record 23.6 percent market share at the local box office, marking the highest share for domestic films in Spain ever for a September figure, according to Spanish producers lobby Fapae president Ramon Colom.

He cited data as of last week, which still held true as of this weekend. Last year, the figure stood at 19.1 percent.

The figure, buoyed by successes from Telecinco Cinema like A Spanish Affair  and El Nino, is likely to grow to over 25 percent, Colom said, citing upcomig films like Damian Szifron’sWild Tales,  Alberto Rodriguez’s Marshland  and Javier Fesser’s Mortadelo and Filemon, among others.

The good news is especially sweet as Spain wrestles with a recession that has seen the government slash subsidies and up sales tax on movie admissions to 21 percent . Production budgets have dropped from an average $4.1 million (€3.2 million) in 2009 to $1.8 million (€1.4 million) in 2014.

Colom used the announcement to once again sound the alarm for film financing, painting a picture in which pubcaster Television Espanola’s support has plummeted 40 percent in the past four years to an investment in Spanish film of $24.4 million (€19 million) and the tax exemption on prívate investment in production sits far behind the 30 percent of other European countries at 18 or 20 percent.

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“There are a series of problems with the industry that must be fixed, but the Culture Ministry isn’t the perfect place to fix industrial problems,” Colom said. “When we progress in a negotiation, it stalls and then has to be started again with industry or with the treasurey.”

Colom said the government still owed producers $128 million (€100 million) from 2012, 2013 2014 based on previous box office performance and urged the government to adopt measures proposed by a committee of experts that would change the finance model. Last week, the government announced it would deliver some $41 million (€32 million) in subsidies corresponding to films released in 2012.

“We have to get rid of a model that pays three years after release for films that incur costs two  years before the release,” Colom said, telling of families that are losing their homes because they put up personal assets as colateral to make films.

Without going into too much detail, Ramon Masllorens of the Catalan producers association that forms part of Fapae explained the preferred model is the one that will pass in Spain’s northeastern Catalan region later this year that places a canon on Internet providers per data used that would go toward financing local content.