Spain delays new lingo law for pic dubbing

MADRID — The government of Catalonia, Spain’s largest autonomous region, has postponed the introduction of a decree that would have forced distributors to dub half their prints on wide releases into the local lingo, Catalan.

The majority of Catalans are accustomed to seeing Hollywood blockbusters in Castillian Spanish, so the region’s distributors and exhibitors face a potentially huge drop in takings if the law is enacted.

On Friday, the cultural councilor of the Catalan Generalitat, Joan Maria Pujals, announced that the decree would not become law until July 31.

The decision followed a ruling by Catalonia’s Higher Court of Justice which suspended proposed sanctions against distribs which did not comply with the language quota.

Catalan retreat

The Catalan government backed off following a Friday meeting between Catalan politicos and Luis Hernandez de Carlos, president of the Spanish distributors’ lobby Fedicine, which reps the U.S. majors. Friday’s powwow set up a timetable for further discussions about the proposed decree.

Local pundits now think the decree could be sidelined indefinitely as the government builds up for Catalan general elections, to take place this fall.

Accustomed during Franco’s dictatorship to seeing mainstream films in Castillian, Catalans associate Catalan-dubbed versions of Hollywood blockbusters with second-run cinemas.

Fearing a domino effect whereby other small nationalist groups across Europe would demand similar language quotas, the majors in Spain had threatened to reduce print runs in Catalonia, or only release subtitled prints. Neither extreme now seems necessary.

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