New government figures on the performance of Spanish cinema have set tongueswagging thanks to the inclusion of two high-profile minority co-productionsincluding Ridley Scott's Kingdom Of Heaven.

Theofficial figures published by the Ministry of Culture's Film Institute ICAAshow Spanish films' market share rose slightly in the first five months of 2005to 14%. Market share in 2004 was 13.4%, down slightly from 15.8% in 2003.

Butthe figures got a notable boost from Scott's Kingdom Of Heaven and Breck Eisner'sSahara, both minority co-productions with Spain's KanZaman which shot partiallyin Spain. Without the two hits, local films' market share drops dramatically tojust 8.9%.

Betweenthem, Kingdom and Sahara make up almost $14.5m (Euros 12m) of the total $39.2m (Euros 32.4m)grossed by Spanish films between January 1 and May 31, 2005. The top-rankingKingdom's $10.8m (Euros 8.9m) alone represents 27% of Spanish cinema's overall takingsfor the period, and its grosses continue to climb: released May 6, the film wasup to $16.8m (Euros 13.9m) by June 19 and remained in the local top 10.

In astatement, the ICAA confirmed that Kingdom has Spanish nationality and thestatistical inclusion of minority co-productions strictly follows the law.

Sources at KanZaman underscored the same message: "Perhaps we shouldcongratulate ourselves that Spanish producers can participate in internationalprojects of such magnitude," the ICAA statement concluded.

Otherminority Spanish co-productions were included in the January-May figures withless fanfare, including Ken Loach's Ae Fond Kiss, the Italian-languageI Am NotAfraidand French co-production Bloody Mallory.

Meanwhile,no other local film broke the $6m (Euros 5m) watershed during the January-May period:comedy The World's Longest Penalty came closest, with $5.3m (Euros 4.4m), followed byCannes title Habana Blues with $2.8m (Euros 2.3m.)

Filmax's May release Tapas wasup to $4.7m (Euros 3.9m) as of June 19 on the back of its Malaga Film Festivaltriple-win.

Allthat may change by year-end considering the hefty forthcoming releases instore, includingTorrente 3, opening September 30; Jaume Balaguero'sCalista Flockhart-starrer Fragile; Vicente Aranda's English-language The WhiteKnight, due out in October/November; and popular veteran director Jose LuisGarci's Ninette, opening through DeA Planeta on August 12.