In the last four decades, few independent authors have had such a significant artistic and commercial impact on the international market as Pedro Almodóvar, who has just successfully premièred his latest film, "Dolor y gloria" (Pain and Glory) in Spain and has been once more selected to Festival International de Cannes.
An indisputable benchmark in Spanish cinema across the globe, Almodóvar has directed 21 feature films since he made his début in 1980 with "Pepi, Luci, Bom".
It was in 1985 when, together with his brother Agustín, he created the production company El Deseo, whose first feature film was “La Ley del Deseo” (Law of Desire), a co-production with LaurenFilm that made a notable mark in international festivals such as the Berlinale 1986, in which it featured in the Panorama section.
Again in alliance with LaurenFilm, in 1988 El Deseo produced “Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios” (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), Almodóvar's first great international success. In Spain, "Mujeres" billed €7 million, the best result of an Almodóvar film until then. The film also won recognition from the Spanish Film Academy, which awarded it five Goya Awards, including Best Film and Best Actress (Carmen Maura).
“Mujeres” contributed decisively to spreading the Almodóvar phenomenon in the North American market. Distributed by Orion Classics, it billed $7.2 million in theatres and was nominated for Best Foreign Film at both the Oscars and Golden Globes.
With “Átame” (Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! ) (1990), the last film with Antonio Banderas before he began his Hollywood adventure, it competed for the César of France and the Golden Bear of Berlin. In Spain it billed €3.1m, while in the United States, distributed by Miramax, it reached $4.1m.
Miramax distributed his next film in the United States, “Tacones Lejanos” (High Heels) (1991) with more modest earnings ($1.7 million) but achieving another Golden Globe nomination. In France, it won the César for Best Foreign Film. “Tacones Lejanos" marked the beginnings of a co-production alliance between El Deseo and the French company Ciby 2000 , which included later films such as “Kika”, “La flor de mi secreto” (The Flower of My Secret) and “Carne Trémula” (Live Flesh).
Oscar for Best Foreign Film
“Todo sobre mi Madre” (All About My Mother) (1999), this time in co-production with France's Renn Productions, is a new milestone in the international career of Almodóvar’s cinema, winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, the Golden Globe, the César, the Bafta and the Best Director Award at Cannes, among many others.
Sold internationally by United Artists, it achieves a spectacular $67 million in takings around the world, of which 8.3 million correspond to the United States market, where it was distributed by Sony Pictures Classics. The relationship with Sony Pictures Classics, which began more than 25 years ago with the US distribution of “La Flor de mi Secreto” (The Flower of my Secret), has remained stable over time, with “Julieta” (2016) being its most recent release.
With “Hable con Ella” (Talk to Her) (2002) he won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and was also nominated for Best Director, an unprecedented achievement in the history of Spanish cinema. The film, which consolidated Almodóvar as one of the most celebrated international authors, raised more than $51 million and was distributed by Good Machine.
In 2004, the Cannes Film Festival chose “La Mala Educación” (Bad Education), starring Gael García Bernal, to inaugurate its 57th out-of-competition edition. Focus Features distributed the film internationally, as it did the next two, “Volver” and “Los Abrazos Rotos” (Broken Embraces). In Spain, the film was distributed by Warner, bringing 1.2 million viewers to theatres and earning €6.1 million in the box office. The Spanish result accounted for approximately 13% of its global revenue ($40 million), supported by good performance in other territories such as the United States ($5.2 million), France ($6.7 million), Italy ($5.4 million) and Mexico ($3.5 million).
The crowning moment in Almodóvar's cinema to date, both in Spain and abroad, was achieved by “Volver”, with extraordinary global earnings of $85 million, of which €10.2 million were generated in Spain. In France, distributed by Pathé, the film achieved no less than $17 million. “Volver" won five Goya Awards (film, director, main actress for Penélope Cruz and supporting actress for Carmen Maura, and best original music for Alberto Iglesias. At Cannes, it won the prize for the best script and best female ensemble performance for all of its protagonists. Almodóvar won the EFA (European Film Academy) Best Director award, and Penélope Cruz also received her first Oscar nomination.
FilmNation Entertainment distributed internationally “La Piel que Habito” (The Skin I Live In) (2011), which marked ther return of Banderas to Almodóvar cinema after 21 years. The film was selected by Cannes and triumphed in the Baftas. In total, it raised $30.8 million in cinemas across the world.
Also handled by FilmNation, “Julieta” (2016), which was also selected by Cannes, gave Emma Suárez the third Goya of her career, while the discreet Spanish box office (€2.2 million ) was somewhat offset by results such as the French market ($4 million). The film finally raised $22 million worldwide.
“Dolor y Gloria” (Pain and Glory)
“Dolor y Gloria” is Pedro Almodóvar's seventh film to participate in the Cannes Film Festival since 1999, when “Todo sobre mi Madre” was nominated. Starring Antonio Banderas, the film arrived in Spanish theatres on 22 March with distribution by Sony Pictures Entertainment and massive critical backing.
After three weeks on the bill, it has become Spain's biggest box office title of the year to date, billing €3.9 million and selling 631,000 tickets.