Piracy, weak local pix hit exhibitors

MADRID — Savaged by piracy and softened by poorly perfing local pics, Spanish box office grosses through June 3 were 2.4% down year-on-year to Euros 247.6 million ($329.3 million), according to Nielsen EDI Spain.

Spanish admissions plunged 6.7% to 44.8 million.

Results contrast with the U.K., with total grosses up 6% through June 3, and Italy, with first five-month B.O. increasing 7.4%.

But analysts still think B.O. can stage a comeback.

“The first five-month drop partially reflects the effect of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ last year. There are some very big films coming up this summer,” said Nielsen EDI Spain managing director Jose Manuel Pimienta.

According to provisional stats from Spain’s ICAA Spanish Film Institute, U.S pics took a 76.5% market share.

Given the large number of potential U.S. blockbusters still to be unleashed on Spain this year, that puts the U.S. in with a running chance of passing its 2000 high of 82.7%, the highest share for Yank films in the last 15 years.

Spanish pics’ share was down from 15.5% last year to 7.9% through June 3.

With few big Spanish films beyond Adrien Brody-Penelope Cruz starrer “Manolete” near completion, Spanish exhibitors are looking to films by first-time directors — Jaime Marques Olarreaga’s “Thieves,” which bows this Friday, and Juan Antonio Bayona’s October release, “The Orphanage” — to pep up local pic share.

Pumped by “300,” Warner Bros. was top dog distributor through June 3 with a 17.8% market share, followed by Sony (15.9%), Fox (14.8%), U/UIP (12.4%), BVI (9.1%), Aurum, the top indie (8.8%), DeAPlaneta (5.9%), Alta (2.8%), Tripictures (2.6%), Filmax (2.5%) and Manga (2.0%).

“Spider-Man 3″ was Spain’s highest grosser through June 3 with $22.9 million, though that take has now been overhauled by “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” which grossed $26.3 million through Sunday.

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