'Impossible,' 'Tad' drive $143 million local trawl

TAULL, Spain

Bucking recession, unemployment and exorbitant ticket price hikes, Spanish films look on track to gross around Euros 108 million ($143 million) in Spain, an all-time high on a par or above 2001, when Spain’s economy was in high gear.

Tracking at 17.9% through Dec. 25, local movies’ market share is the best in 27 years.

It may dip slightly, with only the Rodar y Rodar-produced “The Body” making sizeable coin this week — $2.4 million through Tuesday from a Dec. 21 bow — but shouldn’t be much if at all below 2001’s 17.8%.

What’s more, Spain is consolidating a TV promotion business model for goosing its big bows to box office comparable to studio releases.

The historic results comes just four months after Spain’s government spiked cinema tickets’ sales tax in September from 8% to 21%, placing the cost of cinema-going beyond the pockets of many Spanish families.

Three Spanish movies have, however, emerged as event pics for Spaniards who still have disposable income: Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Impossible,” which won a Golden Globe nomination for Naomi Watts, has swept to $53.5 million in Spain, the biggest hometurf B.O. ever for a Spanish film.

Helmed by Enrique Gato, “Tad, the Lost Explorer,” a Peruvian treasure romp, mined $24 million, becoming the highest-grossing Spanish animated feature ever.

“I Need You,” a teen romancer starring Spanish heartthrob Mario Casas, grossed $15.9 million.

Both “The Impossible” and “Tad” were co-produced by Telecinco Cinema, the film production arm of Mediaset Espana, Spain’s highest-rating broadcast group, which used the might of its seven-channel bouquet to give the two films muscular marketing momentum.

“‘The Impossible’ and ‘Tad’ were sure bets. Mediaset Espana’s promotion campaign contributed in a large degree to this,” said Ghislain Barrois, CEO of Telecinco Cinema, which estimates it accounted for 56% of Spanish films’ overall gross this year for a total taking of $77.3 million, the highest ever for a single production house in Spain.

The Antena 3 Group, whose film arm, Antena 3 Films, co-produced “I Need You,” has now made a huge marketing push on “The Body,” both in newscast coverage and promos on its own family of channels.

Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this article.

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