Various news sources have reported today that the majority of Cinemas in Catalonia will be closing on the 1st February in protest for a recently approved law regarding Catalan in cinemas. The date significantly coincides with the presnetation of the Gaudi Awards - the Acadamy Awards for Catalan Cinema.
The law was passed on the 12th of this month, but today the announcement was made to the press of the protest and planned closure of the 74 cinemas offering over 528 screens, which is the majority of screens (total being 795 sreens in all Catalonia).
So what's all the fuss about, I hear you cry? It's not long ago that the Catalan Government ruffled a few feathers over its proposed plans to insist on an equal amount of Translated copies in Catalan and Spanish for films distributed throughout Catalonia. Well, a study released today by Josep Maria Gay, and using information of profits and benefits in Catalan Cinemas from 2001 to 2008 predicts that this new law will not only lessen the income of the cinema industry but even force the closure of many cinemas - hence the closure on the 1st February to symbolise the effect this new law may have.
Last year, 97,1% of movies broadcast in Catalan Cinemas were doubled or subtitled in Spanish with only 2,9% in Catalan. It appears, however, that there may be good reason for this - that even the Catalans don't like going to see films dubbed or subtitled in Catalan. The study by Gay released today made a prediction that if the law may see the beginning of the end for many cinemas, as there is no demand. The new law obliges distributers to produce an equal amount of doubled/subtitled copies as original version copies, UNLESS there are to be less than 16 copies of European-produced movies over the whole of Catalonia. So that means if you have an American movie with less that 16 copies, half must be in Catalan.
It appears to be a solution to a problem which never existed. I know personally I have Catalan friends who have told me that they never watch DVDs or attend cinema screenings in Catalan - rather Spanish - and at the same time I remember fierce publicity a couple of years ago, demanding Harry Potter be dubbed in Catalan so that people (or maybe youngsters) could enjoy it in their native language and not have to read subtitles, or listen to Spanish.
There seems to be more confusing details in the mix, when we talk about recent movies such as Map of the sounds of Tokyo, Agora and Planet 51 which were all funded and made through Spain and Catalonia, but are shot entirely in English. What if there were to be less than 15 copies? Odd, right?
What do you think? I'd love to hear your opinion on this one! As a foreigner, I can only comment on how I would feel watching a Catalan movie, dubbed in English, and I think I'd probably prefer to watch it subtitled. I've seen many films since I've been living here in various languages (German, Swedish, Polish, Russian) and have always watched in Version Original with subtitles in Spanish.
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