The decline of cinemas in Catalonia

Territory lost 100 movie theatres over two decades, and an 18% drop since 2010

Queues outside the Kubrick Cinema in Vilafranca del Penedès (by Gemma Sánchez)
Queues outside the Kubrick Cinema in Vilafranca del Penedès (by Gemma Sánchez) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

August 9, 2022 10:29 AM

Cinemas are in decline across Catalonia. The territory lost 100 movie theatres from 2000 to 2020, according to an analysis by the Catalan News Agency based on the statistical data of the department of culture. 

The data, not yet available for this year and the past, show that in 2000 there were 237 cinemas throughout Catalonia and has been in decline ever since. Two years ago, the most recent year for which there is data, there were only 137 movie theatres – a 42% decrease. Since 2010, the number has dropped by 18%. 

Four counties, in particular, have had no cinemas for years: Alta Ribagorça and Pallars Sobirà in the northwest Pyrenees region, Segarra in the western area close to the city of Lleida, and Pla de l'Estany, north of Girona. 

On the contrary, the density of screens has gone up, which shows a tendency towards multiplexes to the detriment of single-screen picture houses.

Between 2000 and 2005, the territory lost 45 cinemas. The figure stabilized in the following five years, but from 2011 the total number has been in constant decline. Although the average loss over the past two decades is 42% across all of Catalonia, it exceeds 50% in seven counties.

The county of Barcelonès, which includes the Barcelona metropolitan area, has seen its number of cinemas fall from 57 to 26 – a drop of 54%. However, Baix Llobregat, immediately to the south of Barcelonès, has seen a slighter decrease – from 13 to 11.

Counting the number of screens within cinemas, the trend was upward in 2000 when there were 668 and hit a peak in 2011 with 813. Since then, the number has fallen to 664, levels very similar to those at the end of the last century.

Success of ‘Alcarràs’

The biggest Spanish box-office hit of this year has been Carla Simón’s tribute to family farming in rural Catalonia, ‘Alcarràs’.

Earlier this year, the director’s second feature film became the first ever Catalan-language winner of the Golden Bear, the biggest prize at the Berlinale International Film Festival. After its release in cinemas, 

‘Alcarràs’ sold almost 300,000 cinema tickets in its first month in cinemas, between April and May, according to Comscore figures. The film grossed €1.06 million at box offices in its first week, and surpassed €1.5 million after nearly a month.

It will reach theatres in the UK and US in autumn.

‘Alcarràs’ tells the story of the last fruit harvest that a family goes through on their farm before they must leave the land after the owners decide to install solar panels. It’s a tribute to rural life, family farms, and respectful agriculture.

'Alcarràs' is Carla Simón's second film, after 'Estiu 1993' (Summer 1993) – in both productions, her personal story is obvious.

Have a listen to the episode of our podcast, Filling the Sink, for an in-depth analysis of the movie, its director, and the current situation Catalan cinema finds itself in.