Saturday, May 18, 2024

‘Championext,’ from Javier Fesser, Best Spanish Release to Date 2023

Move over “Barbenheimer”: Spain has a new box office phenom: Javier Fesser’s “Championext” (“Campeonex”), his sequel to “Champions,” Spain’s biggest hometurf box office hit of the last seven years which sparked a Woody Harrelson U.S. remake directed by Bobby Farrelly.

Produced by Luis Mansó for Películas Pendleton and Alvaro Longoria for Morena Films, “Championext” is released in Spain by Universal Pictures Intl (UPI), and sold internationally by Latido Films. 

It opened Aug. 18 for a first weekend €1.72 million ($1.89 million) which bested both “Barbie” ($804,275) and “Oppenheimer” ($704,026) as well as “Meg 2: The Trench,” Spain’s No. 1 for the last two weeks. 

“Championext’s” first weekend frame is the biggest among Spanish films since Santiago Segura’s “Father There is Only One 3” in July 2022.

Scoring a muscular €823,399 ($901,622) on Wednesday, spectators’ day in Spain when ticket prices drop at cinema theaters, “Championext” grossed a robust €3.94 million ($4.31 million) through and including Friday, with 651,431 tickets sold. Still No. 1 at Spain’s box office, it looks well on its way to overhauling Spain’s current best 2023 release, the Sony-backed “Vacaciones de verano,” starring and directed by Segura. 

“Championext” transfers the original’s sporting arena from a basketball court to athletics’s track and field before building to an eSports climax. This turns on a new character, played by Brian Albacete who has spinal bifida but has broken out in the space if a year to social media stardom as Brianeitor 2002, a social media commentator with millions of followers as well as a hot-shot gamer in “Fall Guys.”

“It is really fantastic and refreshing that the audience reacts so well to a movie that is different and reflects such valuable principles. We feel the movie also portrays a different view on the new forms of entertainment and how they can help people with different abilities to excel,” said Longoria. 

A Spanish Academy Goya Award winning documentarian (“Sons of the Clouds”), Longoria is now directing a doc feature on Albacete, “La vida de Brianeitor.”

The big bow of “Championext” also underscores more broader audience Spanish cinema’s increasing theatrical box office consolidation around comedies and family entertainment. 

Eight of the Top 10 highest grossing Spanish titles of this year to date belong to one or other or both of these categories. Apart from them, only Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s crossover Neo-Western “The Beasts” and shock-fest “The Communion Girl” make 2023’s current Top 10 cut.

The San Sebastian Festival, framing Spanish bows anywhere from Isabel Coixet’s “Un Amor” to J.A. Bayona’s Netflix Original “Society of the Snow” and Fernando Trueba’s “They Shot the Piano Player,” could yield new non-comedy/family pic Top 10 entrants. 

Championext

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