Spanish theaters to stage strike

Cinemas to shut Monday

MADRID — Most Spanish cinemas will be closed today in protest at the country’s new film legislation.

The one-day strike will be backed by most of Spain’s mainstream cinema loops, including Yelmo, Cinesa, Abaco-Cinebox and Bautista Soler.

The protest was announced Friday by Rafael Alvero, director general of exhibitors’ lobby group FECE, the Federation of Spanish Cinema.

There were no Hollywood bows over the weekend in Spain. “Shrek the Third” and “Fantastic Four: The Silver Surfer” are not due yet. “Ocean’s Thirteen” was expected to top the box office.

Spanish exhibitors are riled that the bill ignores many of their demands, such as tougher anti-piracy measures, a cut in U.S. ma-jor studios rentals in Spain, and legally enforceable six-month windows between a film’s theatrical bow and its release on other platforms.

However, Alta Films, which co-owns Spain’s top Renoir Cinemas arthouse chain, will not back the strike, in part because it supports the proposed law’s European screen quota forcing most hard tops to dedicate one of every four screenings to Spanish or non-Spanish European films.

The film bill is expected to be fast-tracked through parliament.

The cinema closures reflect tightening margins in a sector that has overscreened and is now hit by plunging B.O. and high pi-racy levels.

“People are taking our strike as a move against Spanish filmmaking, but our major concern isn’t the quota, it’s a call for the full implementation of Spanish piracy laws and for theatrical windows regulation,” said exhibition exec Roberto Bayon.

The strike looks more like a cry for attention than the beginning of sustained industrial activity: the exhibition sector simply can’t afford to lose much money.

“We chose a Monday to strike because it’s a lowish day for cinemagoing. Exhibitors’ bottom lines are too weak to strike on a Sunday,” Alvero said.

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