Adult-skewing titles keep distribs happy

Global Indies 2011: Spain

Although the 2011 box office has dropped slightly in Spain, falling 0.8% to $658.5 million through Oct. 16, indie B.O. market share increased from 25% to 29% vs. 2010.

That growth was mainly led by mass audience distribs Aurum, DeAPlaneta and TriPictures, which have seen some success shrugging off U.S. studio domination.

“Spain’s independents have ventured into bigger-budget buys,” says Yolanda del Val, acquisitions head at DeAPlaneta, which distributed “The King’s Speech,” the movie that tops current 2011 indie charts with $13 million.

Total box office is led by Warner-distributed blockbuster “Torrente 4: Lethal Crisis.” The fourth part of Spaniard Santiago Segura’s cop saga nabbed $27.8 million, and a spectacular 4.2% market share. “Torrente 4” bested international franchises such as “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” ($25.9 million), “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” ($22.7 million) and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” ($20.1 million).

But this year, Hollywood’s domination has been partially eroded by arthouse/crossover distributor Alta Films.

Taking advantage of its stable relationship with high-profile auteurs working with Spanish companies, Alta scored standout performances with Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” ($11.4 million) and Spaniard Iciar Bollain’s “Even the Rain” ($4.8 million).

Unusually fine September-October weather dented full-year B.O. expectations. “I’m upbeat about November to December but don’t think that we’ll reach 2010 figures,” says Pau Brunet with BoxOffice.

Hit in recent years by a lack of TV sales and illegal Internet movie downloads, local distributors can find some reason to smile thanks to burgeoning online services, including Netflix, which is due to bow in Spain early next year.

“VOD is still an nascent market but distributors are already seeing that there’s a future,” says Juan Carlos Tous, CEO of Filmin, Spain’s main online portal for indie movies.

VOD returns for an indie film are growing monthly but only represent around 10% of home entertainment revenues, Tous adds.

“VOD revenues are still insignificant,” says Jose Escola chairman of Barcelona-based distrib Emon.

However, new VOD offers such as Wuaki.tv and Canal Plus Yomvi have clinched deals with local distributors while Netflix has reportedly contacted nearly all of them.

“The Spanish market needs to adapt distribution windows and prices. That’s where Netflix will be of great help,” Tous says.

Number of screens: 2,863
Number of 3D screens: 690
Top indie distribs and B.O. through Oct. 16: Aurum ($38.9 million); DeAPlaneta ($23.8 million); TriPictures ($23.1 million)
Top exhibition chains for indie films: Cines Renoir, Golem Cines, Yelmo Cines
Typical minimum guarantee paid: 4% of film budget
Top 5 indie films: “The King’s Speech” ($13 million); “Midnight in Paris” ($11.4 million); “Insidious” ($7.8 million); “Limitless” ($5.6 million);”Saw 3D” ($4.9 million)
Upcoming indie pickups: “Starbuck” (Vertigo Films); “The Inbetweeners” (Aurum Producciones); “Skylab” (Alta Films); “Monsieur Lazhar” (A Contracorriente Films); “Captured” (Golem Distribucion)