Cartoon Movie 2013

For crisis-slammed Spain, feature animation offers film production a lifeline.

The local toon biz’s flagship is Enrique Gato’s Indiana Jones parody “Tad, the Lost Explorer,” the third Spanish film in a row to open Cartoon Movie. Studiocanal-sold, “Tad” snagged $40 million worldwide through Feb. 17, becoming Spain’s highest-grossing Spanish toon ever ($24.6 million), distribbed by Paramount.

“Spain’s film sector now accepts animation as part of its industry,” says “Tad” writer-producer Jordi Gasull at El Toro.

Co-produced by Mediaset Espana’s film arm Telecinco Cinema, “Tad” underscores Spain’s private networks growing commitment to animated features.

Telecinco has boarded Gato’s upcoming moon adventure “Capture the Flag” and a “Tad” sequel, while broadcaster Antena 3 is co-producing Juan Jose Campanella’s “Foosball,” a Universal Latin America and Spain pick-up.

This year, Sony will release Kandor Graphics’ $29.5 million epic toon “Justin and the Knights of Valour,” counting Antonio Banderas among its producers.

“If broadcasters or distributors believe in Spanish toon films, they can be as profitable as Hollywood movies,” says R&R Communications’ Raul Garcia, who is pitching teen werewolf friendship tale “Bitten” at Cartoon Movie.

“We can talk about a Spanish film animation boom if ‘Foosball’ and ‘Justin’ catch box office fire,” adds Gasull.

New state incentives may goose animation investment. For the moment, most Spanish film producers must look for most — perhaps as much as 60% — of their budgets abroad. But animation breathes optimism into a Spain plagued by recession and piracy.

“Spanish genre filmmakers have made movies with international impact. The same could happen in animation,” Garcia says. n

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