The president ofthe Spanish exhibitors' federation FEECE has called on local producers to helpturn around the gradual slide in ticket sales in Spain by making filmsspecifically targeting the largest cinema-going demographic: the 15 to 45 agegroup. He need hardly have bothered: a new wave of films matching this profileare in the pipeline in Spain.
Call it the DumbAnd Dumber-fication of Spanish cinema, but a growing cadre of producers arebacking bold-faced commercial and youth-targeted fare in their hunt for boxoffice gold. To wit, showman Santiago Segura - Spain's box office king -toplines two new spectacles this year: Lolafilms' Isi/Disi, in which heplays one of two unlucky-in-love brothers named after the heavy metal bandAC/DC; and Estudios Picasso and partners' The Amazing World Of Borjamari AndPocholo, in which he plays one of two unlucky-in-love brothers stillclinging to their outdated 1980's identities.
"I thinkwe're seeing a lot more films unabashedly going for the younger public,"confirms Pedro Uriol, who oversees Morena Films' one year-old teen flick labelHappy Hour Films and was selected a "Producer on the Move" at Cannesthis year.
Happy Hour turnsSpain's traditional auteur model of filmmaking on its head: commercial conceptsare conceived in-house before writing and directing talent is hired out. Itslatest, Euros 1.85m graduation romp School's Out (Fin De Curso), beginsshooting July 19.
Increasinglylimited financing from broadcasters in Spain is one factor motoring producers' searchfor low-budget, potentially high-yield fare.
Matching the localsuccess of Hollywood product is another: "I think [the trend] has to dowith the change of generations in the key cinema-makers and the fact that tocompete with American movies for younger audiences, you have to give them whatthey want," suggests Alquimia Cinema producer Francisco Ramos, who isprepping Luis Prieto's night-in-the-life youth comedy Condom Express foran August shoot.
Spanish films haveproven their worth too: a major box office hit - a la Segura's Torrenteseries, live-action Mortadelo & Filemon, musical The Other SideOf The Bed or comedy Football Days - can recoup its budget manytimes over on local theatrical alone. Last summer, La Fiesta - a Euros6,000 independent film about a group of college students - got picked up byBuena Vista and released theatrically to the tune of Euros 1.2m.
Other contenderscurrently in the works: Columbia Films' Paz Vega romantic comedy Say I Do,in post-production; Media Pro's Airbag follow-up Torapia, outthis summer; Sogecine's working class Romeo tale XXL, inpost-production; and university rollics The Parrot's Chocolate and TheYear Of The Tick, both competing last week in Malaga. Multiple genre films,particularly ever-popular horror flicks, are also underway.
For full Spanish production listings click HERE