Argentina Taxes Foreign Blockbusters

by Amy Ramirez, contributing blogger

What is the easiest way to boost cultural pride in a country with a vastly underrated cinematic potential? Tax the films that are imposing a Hollywood cultural agenda! Argentina’s National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts (INCAA) has begun to tax foreign blockbusters in order to promote the advancement of national films. The tariff’s purpose is to avoid Hollywood films populating theatres and overshadowing local films, as Hollywood films often open with 80-120 copies, while a local production normally has 4-10. (Keep in mind, there are only about 900 cinemas in all of Argentina)

The tax rate is something like this: If a movie is shown in 40 theatres, the tariff is set to the equivalent of 300 tickets. If a movie is shown in 120 theatres, the tariff is set to the equivalent of 1,200 tickets. If a movie is shown in more than 120 theatres, the tariff will rise to 2,400 tickets. But this is only for inside the capital, tariffs are cut in half for showings anywhere else in Argentina.

An article on Argentina’s leading film journal, haciendocine.com.ar, voices the general consensus on people’s mixed feelings about the matter. Some think the bar is set “too low” (movies such as Toy Story would have only had to give up 0.3% of their earnings); others think that these tariffs will end up benefitting independent European films (since a foreign movie with a few copies is exempt), and a small minority think this will not change anything, much less stimulate people’s interest in national film.

Despite the state’s effort to bolster national interest in the Argentinean film industry, of the 38 million movie tickets sold in 2010, only 9% went toward local productions. However, there are exceptions to this 9%. Campanella’s “El Secreto de sus Ojos” and Winograd’s “Mi Primera Boda” made it exceptionally well in the box offices. Hopefully the new tax law will be successful and help boost interest in local productions, as well as prevent “dumping” of blockbusters. Perhaps this is a step towards the real solution which is reacquainting the masses with the talent, resources, and quality production of the local film industry.

One thought on “Argentina Taxes Foreign Blockbusters

  1. Do the French do this? Will this restore the glory days of Argentine cinema under the studio system? Will this make the average Argentina want to start watching cine nacional? Is the disdain or disinterest in cine nacional a matter of distribution? We’ve all heard the complaints from Argentines about the film school(s) producing film makers who make films too introspective, too tedious, too obsessed with trauma, etc. to be “entertaining”. On a related note, I’m glad that the Mexican corporations didn’t take over a controlling interest in the Argentine cinema chains in 2011.

    I hope the new tax doesn’t hurt the Argentine consumer by increasing the cost of tickets for foreign films. Will the tax on the earnings not spill over to the price of admission? I would like to see Argentine cinema strengthened and perhaps stand up to the competition of Mexican film production.

    Disclosure: I like cine nacional but then again I sat through Matthew Barney’s 12-hour Cremaster Cycle in one sitting.

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