Spanish films' local market share drops

SAN SEBASTIAN — Spain’s film industry is under pressure to improve market share and get a film bill onto the statute books.

In his now-customary state-of-the-industry address at the San Sebastian fest, Pedro Perez, prexy of Spain’s Fapae producers org, took both these bulls by the horns.

Spanish films’ local market share dropped 19% year-on-year through Aug. 26, he said.

Currently, local pics have a 7.3% share. That could rise to just under 9% by year end, Perez said, if promising bows perform.

According to Perez, market share has tumbled for several reasons, including piracy, which is rampant here.

But Perez saw other explanations.

“We have to be self-critical. Over recent years, there’s been less connect between Spanish films and spectators, sometimes because of the movies themselves,” he admitted Monday at the crowded press conference.

One key question for Fapae is parliament’s approval of a film bill. The legislation contemplates measures such as around 28% tax relief on private investors’ tax bills, a yearly film subsidy fund of up to e100 million ($135.2 million), the creation of a state agency for film, and a re-definition of independent production, hence films’ subsidy eligibility.

Spain will hold general elections next May. “We need to get the law approved this legislature, so that Spanish films are more competitive,” Perez argued.

But the period for amending the bill has been extended by a week. And the legislation has sparked a turf war between Madrid’s central government and Catalan nationalists over the government’s control of its national subsidy fund. The nationalists want to hand out their cut of the fund themselves.

What low market returns haven’t affected is Spain’s spectacular production levels.

Through Aug. 26, Spain produced 95 features and documentaries, 22 up on 2006. In Europe, only France, Russia and Germany beat or meet such prolific numbers.

Underscoring Spain’s ever-growing relationship with Latin America, Spain has co-produced 16 films with the region this year; European co-productions came in at 12.

In all 82 Spanish films have been released, six more than in 2006, according to a Fapae study.

But producers are complaining that distributors are backing away from Spanish fare, or demanding that producers put up P&A themselves on many mid- to low-budget titles.

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