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.