Photo: Spanish Film Making in Trouble
It is becoming increasingly evident that the Spanish film industry is in danger of sinking. Attendance at movies is at an all time low while funding has recently been cut in half, yet ticket prices continue to increase by 13 percent. Silvia Arribas, a Madrid based script analyst is also concerned. She states, “The Spanish cinema is in danger. We have a fragile industry with a strong dependence on state support. The way of administrating the direct state funds has demonstrated not to be efficient enough to stimulate the growth of the industry.”
This increase in ticket prices could not come at a more difficult time as Spain faces tough economic challenges. With one in four people currently unemployed in Spain, an increase in price from eight to ten euros will clearly not be a winning strategy for the Spanish film industry. Since 2009, movie attendance has been declining across the country. Many believe this decline will eventually lead to theaters and concert halls closing their doors for good, possibly as soon as the end of 2012.
“Many cinemas will close and there will be more piracy. Without an audience, production companies won’t be able to take on new film productions, many professionals will be fired and the brain drain (to Hollywood) in search for an opportunity to develop will arise. This new measure will be damaging for everyone,” worries Arribas.
Piracy alone has aided in the movie industry depression in Spain. With increasing prices, many more will be more likely to simply download their film of choice instead of visiting a local theater. One possible solution to this problem is to begin marketing online film distributors. Netflix is expected to arrive in Spain by the end of the year. Currently Spain’s version of Netflix, Youzee, is struggling.
Many popular film festivals throughout the country are also feeling the effects of the decline. San Sebastian’s film festival is facing a 35 percent budget cut while smaller festivals such as Valencia’s Mostra and Pamplona’s Punto de Vista have cancelled or decided to present on a biannual basis.
Arribas believes that one key to improving the film industry in Spain is to create films that have more of an international appeal, which will thus lengthen their box office time allowing for each film to gross more money. If the industry cannot make this happen, she fears the industry and Spain’s visibility throughout the world could disappear. She explains, “Film and culture are extraordinary and fundamental vehicles for our values and idiosyncrasy on the international ground. Inside our borders, it works as a social stimulus and coheres our collective identity. If the production of our culture is cut down on, the Spanish society and the international projection of our country will be severely weakened.”