Spanish B.O. is 8% ahead of 2005

'Pirates' drives returns to healthy $590 million

SITGES — Aided by the best perf of the year from “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” Spanish B.O. through September came in at Euros 464.6 million ($590 million), 8% up on the first nine months of 2005.

“Nobody would expect anything else. 2005 was such a terrible year that 2006 could only get better,” said Jose Manuel Pi-mienta, managing director of Nielsen EDI, Spain.

The 2006 trawl is still 6% down on January-September 2004, which notched up Euros 494.6 million ($628.1 million), Spain’s biggest year in B.O. ever.

But it gives Spain an outside chance of scoring the second highest grossing year in B.O. ever in 2006, despite escalating piracy and the spread of competing leisure options.

The bad news is that the first half of the year saw the B.O. lead on 2005 at 10%. July to September saw the lead drop by 2%.

Beyond the storming Euros 28.5 million ($36.2 million) gross from “Pirates,” Spain saw fewer big films punching big num-bers over the summer. Next best performers were Spanish swashbuckler “Alatriste” (Euros 15.3 million, $19.4 million) and Disney’s “Cars” (Euros12.7 million, $16.1 million).

While distributors focus on grosses, exhibitors won’t be as pleased that admissions, their bellwether of success, were only 3% up through September on an awful 2005. The squeeze on Spain’s exhibition sector continues.

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