US embassy cable - 04MADRID553

Spanish Film Campaign: Promotion or Protectionism?

Identifier: 04MADRID553
Wikileaks: View 04MADRID553 at
Origin: Embassy Madrid
Created: 2004-02-18 08:51:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

E.O. 12958: N/A 
SUBJECT: Spanish Film Campaign: Promotion or Protectionism? 
1. Spain's film industry has kicked off 2004 with a campaign 
aimed at promoting Spanish films by belittling those "made 
in the USA." Despite the campaign's anti-American tone, 
there's no need for Hollywood to worry yet. GOS policy, as 
voiced by President Aznar, suggests that the introduction of 
market access barriers is highly unlikely. 
2. Spanish film producers started the New Year with the aim 
of improving their box office profits.  Although film 
production in Spain increased from 114 movies in 2002 to 126 
movies in 2003, the ten most-seen Spanish films accounted 
for 70% to 80% of Spanish film sales.  In an attempt to 
promote Spanish movies, producers from the Federacin de 
Asociaciones de Productores Audiovisuales (Fapae) initiated 
a campaign based on the slogan "You need to come see us." 
The aim of the producers was to remind viewers that Spanish 
films are different from international films.  While Fapae 
said the campaign wasn't anti-Hollywood, the ads obviously 
referred to the U.S. 
3. The campaign consisted of three commercials that were 
screened in theaters or aired on television for a period of 
fifteen days.  The president of Fapae Pedro Perez made a 
press statement assuring that the message is not against 
anyone, not even Hollywood.  "Taxista" or taxi-driver was 
the first commercial, which underscored the difference 
between Spanish culture, when two taxi-drivers meet and 
greet each other using hand-shakes and gestures, reflecting 
those of hip-hop.  Another commercial "Halloween," questions 
why aspects of foreign cultures are adopted into Spanish 
culture.  The message of the last of three advertisements, 
"Batedor" or baseball batter, was that Spanish cinema is 
equally capable of producing movies.  Although the 
commercials are comical, they make obvious references to 
American culture, complicating Perez' claim that these 
campaigns are not targeted at, as the newspaper El Mundo put 
it, its "archenemy the American cinema." 
4. Despite the anti-U.S. overtones, it's unlikely the U.S. 
film industry should be concerned about a backlash against 
American films in Spain.  We spoke with Secretary General 
Estela Artacho of Fedicine, a confederation representing 
American film and Spanish film industries.  Although Spanish 
producers would support protectionist measures, Artacho 
opined that given the present Aznar administration's liberal 
trade policies and its strong ties to the U.S., 
protectionist measures are unlikely.  In his recent trip to 
the U.S., Aznar condemned the French degree of cultural 
protectionism.  Currently, the only form of protection in 
Spain is a long-standing movie quota of one EU-film for 
every three non EU-films. Artacho was convinced that the 
American film industry was not significantly affected by 
this quota. 
5. A closer look at the Spanish film sector can explain that 
the campaign is not driven politically, but rather, it has 
been initiated by the economics of the film sector.  For the 
second consecutive year, movie attendance has dropped 
sharply in Spain.  For 2002 and 2003, there was a total loss 
of nearly 17 million viewers.  On the other hand, there were 
some minimal improvements for Spanish films, which gained 
500,000 viewers-an increase in market share from 13.7% to 
16% in 2003. 
6. CONCLUSION.  Last year's sales figures have been an eye- 
opener for Spanish film producers. They have opted to 
attract more viewers to their films by branding their film 
industry. For now, the U.S. film industry will probably be 
unaffected by the new campaigns.  The possibility of other 
measures being taken depends largely on the future situation 
of the Spanish film sector. 

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