Spanish B.O. falls by 3%

Theatrical gross driven by 3D tentpoles

Bolstered by 3D blockbusters, especially “Avatar,” total 2010 box office in Spain notched up €655 million ($873.8 million), 3% down from 2009, according to Rentrak.

Total admissions were 10% down, at just under 100 million, underscoring how 3D ticket price hikes of 30%-40% goosed total takings — a worrying sign for exhibitors who rely on concessions for profits.

“2010 was a more than average year, given that Spain played and won the (soccer) World Cup, and the last three months saw terrible box office attrition,” said Arturo Guillen, managing director of Rentrak, Spain.

Cinemagoing has seen steady shrinkage since 2004, when it hit 143.9 million, he added.

First semester B.O. in Spain was up 10% to $426.9 million vs. same period in 2009, with ticket sales broadly flat.

Spanish films took a sizeable hit, however.

Though the final figures aren’t in, local pics’ trawl tumbled about 40% from $139.8 million in 2009 when Alejandro Amenabar’s “Agora” lead a solid roster of Spanish films, said analyst Pau Brunet at Boxoffice.es.

Last year lacked big national titles, aside from Fernando Gonzalez Molina’s “Three Steps Above Heaven,” the highest-grossing Spanish film of the year at $11.4 million, and Guillem Morales’ “Julia’s Eyes,” with $9.2 million.

The three biggest earners last year were Hollywood 3D tentpoles: Holdover “Avatar” ($69.3 million in 2010), “Toy Story 3” ($32.7 million) and “Alice in Wonderland” ($30.4 million).

Withered by online piracy, blockbuster figures were notably down from other major European territories: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” was tracking at just $17.7 million after five weekends at the end of 2010.