CINEMA

Ticket sales up 366 percent as viewers flock to Fiesta del Cine promotion

Cinemagoers’ favorite proves to be 'Ocho apellidos vascos,' a record-breaking phenomenon

Viewers watch 'Ocho apellidos vascos' in Madrid's Cines Princesa theater, on the first day of the Fiesta del Cine event on Monday.
Viewers watch 'Ocho apellidos vascos' in Madrid's Cines Princesa theater, on the first day of the Fiesta del Cine event on Monday.samuel sánchez

A total of 436,000 people took advantage of the fourth edition of the Fiesta del Cine event on Monday, to go and watch a movie at the reduced price of  €2.90. The figure marks a 366-percent rise on the number of tickets sold the previous week, according to media measurement service Rentrak.

Six months ago, the promotion helped boost the morale of Spain’s flagging film industry by attracting 1,573,412 people into the country’s cinemas over three days – seven times more than the same three days the previous week, and double the number brought in by the 2012 edition of Fiesta del Cine.

The first day of that third edition was considered a resounding success after attracting 335,000 people. This time around, all predictions have been broken.

The majority took advantage of the promotion to watch the Spanish film phenomenon of the year, Ocho apellidos vascos, which has already seen incredible box-office figures. By last Monday, the comedy, which follows an Andalusian trying to pass himself off as Basque to win the heart of a girl, had already taken the Spanish box office by storm; by this Monday it had increased takings by 145 percent.

This time around, all predictions for ticket sales have been broken

Even before the promotion began, director Emilio Martínez-Lazaro’s film was setting records of its own, becoming the first film in the history of Spanish cinema – since such data has been compiled – to take more at the box office in the third week of its release. Last weekend the film grossed another €5.5 million, a 24-percent rise on the previous week and double the earnings of the film in second place in the chart, superhero blockbuster Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which was released on Friday on 100 more screens than Ocho apellidos vascos.

On Sunday, the movie's total take stood at €16.5 million, and by the end of the week it could become one of the top 10 highest-grossing Spanish movies of all time, a list topped by Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible with €42.3 million. However, the cheaper tickets offered by the Fiesta del Cine promotion, which runs Monday to Wednesday, may clip its wings somewhat.

The continuing success of the Fiesta del Cine event once again reopens the debate about whether movie theaters should lower the price of tickets, and brings to the fore the issues stopping them from doing so. This time around two million people signed up on the Fiesta del Cine website to take advantage of the cheaper seats, which can now be purchased online and by phone, thus avoiding long lines at movie houses. And even more cinemas are taking part: 350 complexes with a total of 3,038 screens, accounting for 95 percent of the market.

But this fourth edition arrives at a very different moment. Last weekend the Spanish box office recorded its highest figures in the last two years, driven up by the success of Ocho apellidos vascos, and some organizers of the event had expressed concern that this might prevent this Fiesta del Cine from matching the previous edition's figures. So far, at least, that does not seem to be the case.

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