Spain in B.O. blues

Receipts drop 16.1%

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain — Spain’s box office plunged a dramatic 16.1% through Sept. 15, compared with the same period in 2004, reaching just E401 million ($493.3 million).

Exhibitors don’t expect to make up the shortfall during the rest of the year, and to explain the implosion, they’re beginning to talk of other reasons beyond the lack of product, such as the vidgame boom, Internet usage and rampant piracy.

Figures were revealed at the San Sebastian Festival by Jose Manuel Pimenta, general manager of Nielsen EDI in Spain, during a presentation of BOB, a real-time box office data bank to be launched late this year by Nielsen EDI and exhibitors body Fece.

“The figures underscore that the B.O. recovery in 2004, following two years of decline, was an exception,” Pimenta told Daily Variety. “We may be looking at a change in Spaniards’ leisure habits,” he added.

Only nine movies have grossed north of $12 million this year in Spain, led by “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” ($23.4 million) and “The War of the Worlds” ($20.4 million).

Also at the fest, the backers of Spain-Argentina co-production fund Raices revealed the winners of its first year grants: Juan Pablo Buscarini’s 3-D/live action “Ratoncito Perez”; Juan Taratuto romantic comedy “Ojos,” his follow-up to “It’s Not Me, It’s You”; and “Abrigate,” scripted by Fernando Castets (“The Son of the Bride”) and directed by Ramon Costareda. All will receive $183,450.

Launched in February, Raices is funded by the Audiovisual Consortium of Galicia, Catalonia’s ICIC subsidy board and Argentina’s INCAA Film Institute.

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