Spanish boxoffice reverses five-year trend

Attendance up 2.5%, boxoffice up 9% in 2009

MADRID -- Reversing a five-year downward trend, Spanish movie attendance rose 2.5% in 2009 to 110 million viewers and boxoffice receipts were up almost 9% compared to the previous year, Spanish authors' and publishers' collecting society SGAE reported on Tuesday.

In a report covering the entertainment industry's performance last year, the society said that the increases occurred despite a drop in the number of cinema screens around the country from 4,169 in 2008 to 4,097 last year.

Overall boxoffice take was €678 million ($880.1 million) in 2009 for an 8.6% increase over the previous year and SGAE attributed the rise to the release of 3-D films in the Spanish market such as "Avatar," "Up" and the third installment of the "Ice Age" franchise.

According to figures garnered by the society, U.S. productions ruled the roost in 2009 with 71% of all movie distributed coming from the United States, the same figure as the year before.

Spanish films showed a slight improvement, up from 13% to 15% in 2009.

The top five titles ranked by boxoffice receipts were "Up" with€ 24.6 million ($32 million); "Avatar" at €23 million ($29.8 million); "Ice Age 3" with €21.6 million ($28 million); "Agora" at €20.4 million ($26.5 million) and "New Moon" with €18.8 million ($24.4 million).

But movies were the only bright spot in Spanish entertainment last year as video, recorded music and live performances all registered losses.

Video sales and rentals were worth €125 million ($162.4 million), tumbling by 37% from 2008 and almost a quarter of the sector's best year, 2004, when videos took in up €404 million ($524 million).

Recorded music sales in Spain fell by 17% over the previous year to €227 million ($295 million). SGAE blamed piracy and illegal downloading for the decreases suffered by both media.