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Spanish pix gross $129 mil abroad

France, U.S., best foreign markets in 2010

Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” a co-production between Spain’s Mediapro and Letty Aronson’s New York-based Gravier Prods., was the highest-grossing Spanish film outside Spain in 2010, taking €17.8 million ($25.5 million).

In a Spanish international top five for last year, “Stranger” is followed by Juan Jose Campanella’s “The Secret in Their Eyes” ($24.2 million), co-produced by Spain’s Tornasol Films; Ilion Animation Studios’ “Planet 51” ($20.6 million), helmed by Jorge Blanco, which made much of its coin off a late 2009 U.S. bow; Rodrigo Cortes’ Sundance hit “Buried” ($17 million), from Versus Entertainment; and Alejandro Amenabar’s Mod Prods.-produced “Agora” ($9.5 million).

For the third year, Spanish movies punched bigger B.O. outside Spain than on home turf.

Total foreign B.O. came in at $128.8 million compared to a local take of $114.9 million, according to a study unveiled Monday by Spain’s Fapae producers’ association at the Madrid de Cine-Spanish Film Screenings, which ends today.Study sources figures from Rentrak, the European Audiovisual Observatory and the Icaa Spanish Film Institute.Spanish movies’ local tallies were $114.9 million B.O. gross.

“Spain is a country with quite a lot of talent, but it has to re-conquer its (local) public,” said distributor-producer Fernando Trueba, the Madrid de Cine godfather.

The Spanish film biz’s perf overseas still trails that of France, whose box office receipts abroad came in at $472 million in 2010, according to Unifrance estimates.

Foreign B.O. on movies from Spain was 36% down on estimates for 2009. With Spanish film foreign bows increasing 7% last year versus 2009, up to 91, the plunge in their takings, is explained, Fapae prexy Pedro Perez argued, by the absence of a wide U.S. release in 2010 to compare with Spanish toon pic “Planet 51.”

“Planet 51” opened Stateside November 2009 via Sony on 3,000-plus prints, grossing $39.2 million by year-end 2009.

With no big bow to goose U.S. results, France, where Spanish films collected $32.8 million, was Spain’s biggest export market in 2010.

U.S./Canada ranked second ($18.8 million) and Italy was third ($17.1 million).

In a sign that Latin America is emerging as an appreciable foreign territory for Spanish films, Mexico was the fourth biggest market. While total grosses in Mexico were just $7.2 million, the number of Spanish films opening in Mexico — 25, joint first with Italy — was 56% up on 2009.

The 2011 Fapae prize for the Spanish film with the biggest impact abroad was won by Daniel Monzon’s prison-set thriller “Cell 211,” sold internationally by Films Distribution.

Produced by Spain’s Vaca Fims, Morena Films, and Telecinco Cinema and France’s La Fabrique 2, the Spanish B.O. and sales sleeper bowed in 11 countries last year.

At the Fapae conference, producer Gonzalo Salazar-Simpson, prexy of Spain’s Asociacion Estatal de Cine, a producers’ lobby, argued that, given dwindling sources of national finance, Spanish producers should look to sales agents to not only pre-sell or sell their films, but also help find coin for their development and package their financing.

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