US studios are weighing up options now that the Catalunya government has passed its controversial Film Law. The fiercely independent Spanish region insists that Hollywood must either dub or subtitle every US movie released there – adding millions of dollars to costs.
Catalunya believes the new law will widen the range of films in Catalan, increasing choice for cinemagoers. Culture minister Joan Manuel Tresserras has talked about the law correcting the region’s “linguistic inequality”.
But Hollywood lobbyist the Motion Picture Association tells me the Film Law is “regrettable”.
The MPA says, “We do not believe that government-imposed requirements can achieve the desired results. Films are already dubbed into Catalan and, regrettably, they under-achieve. Consumers in Catalunya express their preference by their actions.”
It costs between $30-40,000 to dub a Hollywood movie. Multiply that by the 12-15 movies each studio releases annually, and the bill will run to around $3.6 million a year.
One studio insider tells me the Catalan move is “completely misguided”.
Spanish distributors’ association Fedicine, which represents 90% of Spain’s distributors including Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros, warns the Film Law can only destroy more jobs and damage film companies. Luis Hernández de Carlos says that lots of films won’t get released because of the law, restricting rather than widening choice.
And if Catalunya insists of having movies dubbed into the local language, what’s to stop nearby Basque region insisting on its own local-language versions — or other European nations, for that matter?