Numbers crunch: E.U. Big Five breakdown

MADRID — In the midst of economic gloom, content piracy, the lure of new media and a shortage of local hits, Spain recorded a 4% fall in admissions in 2007, while France and Germany suffered bigger drops. The U.K. and Italy managed to buck the trend partly due to rising local film shares (29% and 31.7% respectively).

Spain recorded the poorest local film showing among Europe’s Big Five with a modest 13.5% share, an entire third of that deriving from one pic, “The Orphanage.”

Total production spend in Europe’s Big Five was $5.5 billion with production subsidies of $1.35 billion — 43% of the EU total.

Film consultant Jonathan Davis estimates that around 850 films are produced in the EU as a whole, with an average of around $3.7 million in subsidy support per pic. Davis also highlights the trend toward higher regional funding and increasing EU checks on the levels of “aid intensity.”

The U.K. suffered a 12% drop in production spend in 2007, largely due to indecision concerning tax breaks that represent 82% of U.K. state aid.

France maintained its pivotal role at the crossroads of European cinema, with the highest production spend and the highest number of national films (228) and co-productions (95).

Although hampered by a smaller production spend and weaker local pic share, Spain is increasingly a key player in the European film scene, with 172 features produced in 2007.

Germany topped this figure with 174 films, but 45 of these were documentaries, thus making Spain Europe’s second most prolific fiction film producer in terms of volume.

Spain’s number of feature films is almost 50% higher than the number of fiction films lensed in the U.K., Italy or Germany and more than twice its level of 1999.

John Hopewell and Ed Meza contributed to this report.

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