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Atresmedia, Warner’s ‘Palm Trees’ Dislodges ‘Star Wars’ from Spanish B.O. No. 1 Berth

Gonzalez Molina's melodrama overhauls 'Capture the Flag' as the second biggest Spanish release of 2015

Distributed by Warner Bros. Intl. Pictures Spain, Fernando Gonzalez Molina’s epic romance “Palm Trees in the Snow,” an Atresmedia Cine production, dislodged over Epiphany “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” from the No. 1 B.O. berth in Spain.

Vicente Canales’ Film Factory Ent. handles international sales.

The ambitious Spanish-language pic, toplining local film and TV stars Mario Casas and Adriana Ugarte, held its leading position over the Jan. 8-10 weekend, scoring €10.5 million ($11.3 million) at the local B.O.

Bowing Dec. 25, “Palm Trees” collected $4.97 million in 2015, and $6.3 million-plus in 2016. By Jan. 13, the film had cumed $12.1 million, overhauling Telecinco Cinema’s “Capture the Flag” as the second biggest Spanish release of 2015. The film has sold to date 1.72 million tickets.

And it is showing legs, topping $2.1-plus million over the last weekend, down just from $2.97 million, the weekend before.

The film launched at the end of a year in Spain when its highest grossing movies were event-group movies from the friends-friendly “Star Wars: the Force Awakens,” to the more family-skewed “Minions,” “Jurassic World” and “Inside Out.”

“We were very surprised by the film’s strong start, in a highly competitive environment, but mostly by the fact that it has just fallen 16% in its second weekend and 25% in the third, thanks to a spectacular word of mouth,” said Mercedes Gamero CEO at Atresmedia Cine.

“’Palm Trees in the Snow’ plays well with female audiences but also the whole family and groups of friends. It’s a film that makes you feel very human, with a huge love story, a movie that feels bigger than life. Many friends go back with the family, and vice-versa,” said producer Adrian Guerra at Nostromo Pictures.

“We still have at least $3 million-$4 million to go,” Guerra said. A final B.O. trawl of $15 million, $9.5 million-$10.6 million grossed this year, would set a substantially high bar for Spanish films in 2016, only beaten by one Spanish release – TC’s “Spanish Affair 2” – last year.

“Palm Trees” represents the latest sign of muscle production expertise, financing and promotion by Spanish media conglom Atresmedia, whose film production arm, Atresmedia Cine, partnered with Nostromo, Warner Bros. and giant telco Telefonica to board the project.

Penned by Sergio G. Sanchez (“The Impossible,” “The Orphanage”) “Palm Trees” adapts the same-titled 2012 best-selling novel by Spanish author Luz Gabas and marks the first feature film developed in-house by Atresmedia Cine.

With a $10.8 million budget, a higher-bracket cost for a Spanish film, the Spanish-language pic shot on location in the Pyrenees mountains near Huesca, the Canary Islands and Colombia.

The story begins in 1953, turning on two brothers, Kilian (Casas) and Jacobo (Alain Hernandez) who leave the Pyrenees to embark upon a journey to the African island of Fernando Poo (present-day Bioko), a Spanish colony where their father works on a cocoa plantation.

They enjoy its relatively liberal life-style until one of the brothers falls in love with Bisila, a black woman, played by Berta Vazquez.

Five decades later, Clarence (Ugarte), the daughter and niece of the two brothers delves into their tragic past, discovering the secret of a forbidden love story framed within turbulent historical circumstances whose consequences will have repercussions in her present-day life.

One of Spain’s most popular actors, Mario Casas’ credits include Alex de la Iglesia’s “Witching & Bitching” and Patricia Riggen’s “The 33.” The star of 2013’s sales and audience hit period TV series “The Time in Between,” Adriana Ugarte will topline in Pedro Almodovar’s upcoming “Julieta” (aka “Silencio”).

“’Palm Trees” results come in handy for both Atresmedia Cine and Spanish film industry in general to demonstrate that we can produce big Spanish-language projects which connect with audiences and that they see that we don’t only produce funny and successful comedies, but we are able to address other film genres such as melodrama and get through with flying colors from the challenge,” Gamero said.

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