Spain rains on distribs with toughest sell in Europe

B'casters buying fewer films, paying less

Madrid Indie distribution is picking up a touch in Spain — it could hardly get worse, say local industryites. Spain remains the toughest sell in a tough continental Europe.

Pay TV — the newly merged Sogecable-Via Digital platform — isn’t buying and won’t for the foreseeable future. And the broadcasters are buying fewer films and paying 20%-25% less.

The artpic market is just as dire, though pubcaster RTVE may open up a small window for European films. But that’s a “maybe.”

All distribs are lobbying for lower asking prices. For mid-range, $25 million-$50 million projects, the Spanish market reps 4.5% to 6% of budgets. And ultra top tab and niche movies are not bought on a strictly percentage basis.

“The appropriate limit is 3%,” insists TriPictures managing director Luis Ortiz.

Despite the tough times, Spanish distribbers could step up to the table slightly more at Cannes than the did at Mifed or the AFM. Distribs need to feed their inventories, and with a few big new pics coming onto the market and deal terms getting more realistic, things could be looking rosier for both sides.

“Sales agents are dropping prices and relaxing payments schedules,” one distribber reported.

Meanwhile, some players are diversifying: Sogepaq into local pic distribution; Manga and Alta into international co-productions. And “The Lord of the Rings” distribber Aurum has teamed with Germany’s Ott Films to release Epsilon titles in Germany and Austria.

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