Spanish cinema goers face declining access to independent films

In stark comparison with 10 years ago, more than a third of Spanish citizens live in areas that have no movie theatres.  

Tonina Alomar
Tonina Alomar NewsMavens, Spain
Spanish cinema goers face declining access to independent films - NewsMavens
Cinema theater. Pixabay

Why this story matters:

In spite of having great filmmakers like Almodovar and Buñuel, Spain is slowly losing its cinemas, especially small, independent ones. Recent statistics show that more than a third of Spanish citizens live in areas that have no movie theatres. In 2004, there were 101.3 cinema screens per million inhabitants, today there are 75.9. 

During the real estate bubble which Spain enjoyed until 2008, a great many shopping centres with cinemas and small rooms were built.  But after the financial crisis many cinemas were closed and have not re-opened because the profitability of movie theaters is very low -- particularly arthouse cinemas, which primarily exist only in large cities such as Barcelona or Madrid. According to Juan Ramón Goméz Fabra, president of FECE (the cinema owners trade union) the future of Spanish cinema will remain bleak for the foreseeable future.

It looks like the 17.7 million Spaniards (more than a third of the population), who still have no cinema in their town, won't be getting one any time soon.

Details from the story:

  • Not all is lost, compared with the European screen average, Spain still fares better: Spain has one screen for every 12,946 people, while the continental average stands at 15,047.
  • Ticket prices in Spain continue to increase every year. Today, it costs around six euros to go to the cinema (there are huge differences between prices in different provinces). In Europe, some countries have fought against the crisis by freezing prices (France and Holland). On average, going to the cinema in the EU cost 7.5 euros in 2015 and 7.1 last year, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory.
  • Juan Ramón Goméz Fabra, president of FECE, the cinema owners trade union, says that for cinemas to survive, especially in small towns, they will have to combine film projection, ballet, opera, theater and even museum tours. Two decades ago, small movie theaters (from one to four screens) were abundant in Spain: in 1998, it was eight out of 10. Colossal cinemas, with 10 or more screens, represented 2.5%. Today, almost half (44.8%) of cinemas have at least five screens and the tiny neighborhood cinema is being crushed by shopping center giants.
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