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In line with most other major markets in continental Europe, boosted by a standout bow for “Avatar: The Way of Water” Spain’s 2022 box office surged 49% over 2021 to €379 million ($405.5 million by current exchange rates), Comscore Movies Spain announced Friday. Total admission came in at 61.2 million. 

Results, however, despite an upbeat year for Spanish movies, are still sizeably down, by 39%, on Spain’s average pre-pandemic 2015-19 total box office of €596 million ($637.7 million), Comscore Movies estimates. 

In comparison, in 2022, the U.K. was still 28% down compared to the 2015-19 average box office, France was 32% off, Germany 34% and Italy a whopping 54% down, according to Comscore calculations. 

Bowing Dec. 16 in Spain, Disney’s “Avatar” has roared to €21.86 million ($23.40 million) and 3.2 million admissions through Dec. 29, overhauling Universal’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru” ($22.23 million) and “Jurassic World: Dominion” ($19.43 million). 

Spain’s “Father There is Only One” 3, co-written, directed and starring Santiago Segura, ranked No. 4 ($16.70 million). Having also co-written “The Kids Are All Right” 2, which punched $4.77 million from a late 2022 bow, Segura has achieved the feat of grossing $21.47 million at Spain’s box office, continuing his now double-decade reign as Spain’s king of comedy. 

Dominated by action movies, animation and comedy, Spain’s overall Top 10 featured seven movies pitched squarely at family audiences. 

Alcarras Courtesy of MK2

“2022 has been complicated but positive, Spain’s box office is growing compared to the past, but the recovery continues to takes longer than originally expected. It looks like it will not be on levels comparable to before the pandemic until 2024,” said David Rodríguez, Comscore general manager for Spain and Portugal. 

“What’s fundamental is the support of the media, showing which films are playing in theaters and where. When there’s an interesting movie, and this is communicated to the public, people will go to cinemas,” he added, citing “Avatar,” “Broker” and “Aftersun” as recent cases in point. 

In recent years, Spanish movies’ 2022 market share of 22% has only being bested by 2014’s 25%, powered by “Spanish Affair’s” €56.2 million ($60.13 million), and 2020’s 24.5%, when Hollywood postponed the release or went straight online with many of its biggest plays. 

From the early ‘00s, when Spanish broadcasters Mediaset España and Atresmedia began to market the hell out of Spanish titles which they not only acquired but invested in, Spanish audiences have embraced local films. 

What’s encouraging about 2022’s results is the breadth of Spanish hits which ranges from Segura’s sometimes laugh-out-loud broad audience comedies (“Father There is Only One” 3 and  “The Kids Are All Right” 2) to “Tad the Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy,” the third instalment in the animated adventure caper franchise. 

Also in the Top 10 are a weighty psychiatric asylum-set psychological thriller, “God’s Crooked Lines,” from Oriol Paulo; Alex de la Iglesia’s hallmark black comedy “Four’s a Crowd”; the latest from two big Spanish auteurs, Rodrigo Sorogoyen with “The Beasts,” which leads 2023 Goya Award nominations, and Alberto Rodríguez’s “Prison 77.” Plus Clara Simon’s Berlin Golden Bear winner “Alcarràs,” a flagship for a new trend in Spanish arthouse dramas which sport an extraordinary sense of place, and “I’m Going to Have a Good Time,” an intriguing play for retro and teen audiences.    

Spain Top 10 Highest-Grossing Films, 2022

1. “Avatar, The Sense of Water,” Walt Disney, Dec. 16, €21.86 million ($23.40 million)

2. “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” Universal, July 1, €20.77 million ($22.23 million)

3. “Jurassic World: Dominion,” Universal, June 9, €18.15 million ($19.43 million)

4. “Father There is Only One”3,  Sony, July 14, €15.60 million ($16.70 million)

5. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Walt Disney, May 6, €13.13 million ($14.04 million)

6. “Uncharted,” Sony, Feb. 11, €12.23 million ($13.08 million)

7. “Tad the Lost Explorer and the Emerald Tablet,” Paramount Int’l, Aug. 26, €11.79 million ($12.61 million)

8. “Thor: Love and Thunder,” Walt Disney, July 8, €11.60 million ($12.41 million)

9. “The Batman,” Warner Bros, March 4, €10.83 million ($11.58 million)

10. “Top Gun: Maverick,” Paramount Int’l, May 26, €10.58 million ($11.32 million)

Spain’s Top 10 Spanish Highest-Grossing Films, 2022

1. “Father There is Only One,” Sony, July 14, €15.60 million ($16.69 million)

2. “Tad the Lost Explorer and the Emerald Tablet,” Paramount Int’l, Aug. 26, €11.79 million ($12.61 million)

3. “God’s Crooked Lines,” Warner Bros, Oct 6, €5.72 million ($6.12 million)

4. “The Kids Are Alright 2,” Warner Bros, Dec. 2, €4.47 million ($4.77 million)

5. “Four’s a Crowd,” Sony, Oct. 28, €4.32 million ($4.62 million)

6. “The Beasts,” A Contracorriente, Nov. 11, €3.46 million ($3.70 million)

7. “Alcarras,” Avalon Distribución, April 29, €2.33 million ($2.49 million)

8. “Prison 77,” Walt Disney, Sep. 23, €2.12 million ($2.26 million)

9. “I’m Going to Have a Good Time,” Sony, Aug. 12, €2.09 million ($2.23 million)

10. “Two Many Chefs,” Paramount Int’l, Sep. 16, €2.05 million ($2.19 million)