The mandated shutdown is fiercely contested by Barcelona area town halls, adding to a nationwide debate about just how safe it is to go to the cinema, Variety wrote.
In radical contrast to Barcelona’s theater shutdown, King Felipe VI of Spain and Queen Letitia were caught on Twitter on Saturday evening attending a movie at a multiplex in Madrid in a gesture of support for Spain’s beleaguered movie distribution and exhibition sectors.
The Catalan government’s insistence that venues should stop trading affects 267 cinema screens at 28 theaters, representing €63 million ($71.2 million) in total box office grosses in 2019 – about 10 percent of the total for Spain, Europe’s fifth biggest cinema market.
“The cinema closure is a disaster,” Camilo Tarrazón, president of the Catalan Exhibitors Union, told Variety.
In immediate terms, he continued, the loss of cinemas could dissuade distributors’ from opening their bigger titles when these are needed to power up box office.
Also, he added, the shutdown “sends out signals that cinema theaters are not safe when they have scrupulously implemented safety measures, and other forms of leisure that do risk contagion – street parties, for instance – continue in Barcelona.”
Prompting huge frustration among Barcelona exhibitors, the lockdown also comes as Spain’s box office saw the first sign of recovery on July 15 when ‘Scoob!’ opened to a first-day €107,000 ($121,000), powering up total cinema B.O. grosses in the country to 43 percent above figures for Wednesday a week earlier.
About 60 percent of Catalonia’s movie theaters reopened on June 26 with the city even hosting one of the world’s first onsite festivals, the BCN Film Fest, which attracted 8,000 spectators.
The remaining Catalonia cinemas were due to bow early August in time for the Aug. 7 release by Sony Pictures of the second instalment of Santiago Segura’s comedy, ‘Father There Is Only One.’
Now the large question is whether the mayors of Barcelona and hinterland cities can wring an exception for cinemas out of the Catalan government. Or whether the government’s threat to turn stay-at-home recommendations into a mandate will come to pass as COVID-19 continues to resurge in Barcelona.