Spanish admissions dropped 2.2% last year, while a rise in ticket prices sent grosses up almost the same percentage.

Admissions were down to 124m, while ticket sales were up to $839m (Euros 648m), according to figures from Nielsen EDI.

'The reality is that it was a 'good' year for Spain,' says Arturo Guillen of the Madrid office of EDI Nielsen. 'This is a mature market and as long as the box office stays within the Euros 600m range it is good.'

But each local sector is likely to give the data, and forthcoming figures from the Ministry of Culture, its own interested spin in the days ahead.

'The market is not doing well,' says art-house distributor-exhibitor Enrique Gonzalez Macho of Alta Films. 'The figures are around the same as last year which is bad news because they were down last year.' He cites piracy as the key challenge facing the sector right now.

Performance of Spanish films also looks to be down despite the runaway success of Viggo Mortensen-starrer Alatriste, which took $21.6m (Euros 16.7m), and the strong performance of Pedro Almodovar's Volver (with $12.95 or Euros 10m). Both films accomplished the feat of landing in the top 10 of films of all nationalities.

According to the Ministry of Culture's figures through Dec 24, market share for Spanish films was down more than a percentage point for 2006.

An interesting trend is the close performance of all the majors in Spain last year: Fox cornered about a 20% market share, with UIP, BVI and Sony following close behind around 14% and Warner at 12%. The studios took about a 60% market share between them, handling all ten of the ten top-grossing films in Spain and the three top-grossing Spanish films.

There were 10% more films premiered in Spain last year.