For several weeks, Spanish public authorities (city halls in particular) have offered to their residents and visitors non-theatrical exhibitions of movies for a reduced price or even for free. Summer Cinemas, Cinema Clubs, Cinema Weeks and similar initiatives have proven to be extremely popular in many cities, towns and villages all across Spain. Quite frequently, these offers included the attractive slogan “see the latest releases” (which was more or less true depending on what you consider “latest releases”). From last Saturday (5 July 2014) this shall no longer work in this way.
By means of Spanish Royal Decree Law 8/2014, the Spanish Government has amended without early notice Spanish Law 55/2007 on Cinema matters. In addition to changing the terms under which the cinematographic entities operating in Spain shall register themselves, a change has been inserted on article 15.4 of that Law. According to that change, Spanish public authorities (basically city halls, but also other similar authorities) shall no longer exhibit for free or for a reduced price movies that were subject to theatrical release less than twelve months before the intended date of non-theatrical exhibition by the authorities. Such restrictions shall not apply in the case in which the representatives of the movie theatres / video producers notify to the authorities that no harm should occur as a result of the non-theatrical exhibition.
This legal change shall have a clear impact on a practice that has been growing steadily in the last years. At least in part, it shall return to the traditional approach, exhibiting less recent movies and making an effort to deliver quality rather than novelty.
From a formal viewpoint, it shall be clarified that a Spanish Royal Decree Law is a peculiar piece of legislation in the Spanish legal system. It is for all purposes a law, with the same status as an Act of Parliament, but it is approved by the Government in urgent situations and becomes immediately binding, subject to the later ratification of the Parliament only. Since the current Government has an outright majority in Parliament, ratification can be taken for granted.