September 1, 2012 was marked in red on the calendar of the entire film industry. It was the day that cultural VAT came into force. Culture, and therefore movie tickets, had not managed to be exempt from this increase, although the sector had asked for it to be so. The PP ignored them, and consumed an increase from 8% to 21% that many saw as a revenge for the distant "No to war" of almost ten years before. Everyone foresaw the worst and dire consequences for the film industry.
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The first to confront cultural VAT was an animated archaeologist named Tadeo Jones. The character created by Enrique Gato jumped into the feature film after conquering the world of short films and did so hand in hand with the almighty Telecinco Cinema. He was one of her biggest bets of the year. For her they had reserved the date that she likes the most in the company (the last weekend of August) and an ambitious advertising campaign. Nobody expected that Tadeo Jones was going to have to fight against a surprise enemy called cultural VAT.
The film premiered on August 31, and a day later VAT would already be wreaking havoc. However, Tadeo Jones prevailed over the tax increase. He hardly even noticed. Of course, the Government entered almost double what it expected with the tickets sold for the film that posed a parody for the entire Indiana Jones family. In its first weekend it became number 1 with almost 3 million euros, and at the end of its career it exceeded 18 and reached 60 worldwide. It was a matter of time before Telecinco gave the green light to a sequel.
As times in animation go at their own pace, the second part of Tadeo Jones came five years later, in 2017 and with VAT on movie tickets still present, because that temporary measure was entrenched confirming its ideological character. The sequel did not make a dent either, and in the summer of 2017 it achieved another 17.5 million. When the first part was released, Netflix did not exist in Spain, platforms were only for shoes and cinemas were in fashion. Now the archaeologist has to show that he can handle anything, also with a crisis that the industry trusts will begin to rebound from now on. Tadeo Jones and the Emerald Table is the first of the great premieres of Spanish cinema that will try to revive a box office where only Santiago Segura manages to succeed.
Enrique Gato believes that “there is no quiet premiere”, but he has a very clear image of the one that was marked by cultural VAT at 21%. “That if I remember… it was our first film, we didn't know how that was going to turn out and a few months before the premiere we found out that it was going up and you were pulling your hair out. You didn't know very well what was going to happen with all that. Luckily it was a story with a happy ending. But we had a very hard time thinking that we already had enough handicaps with launching a film and getting people to know that it exists, as well as fighting against those kinds of things that you have no control over, ”explains the director.
It was our first film, we didn't know how that was going to turn out and a few months before the premiere we found out months that VAT was going up and we pulled our hair out
Enrique Gato — Film director
Following the norm, another five years have passed until the third installment has been completed. Its premiere comes again with the shadow of the crisis looming. “There is always something out there in the middle and you have a knot in your stomach without knowing very well what is going to happen”, says Gato to make it clear that “there is no quiet premiere”, but acknowledges that the current situation is quite complex. “We continue with the box office very weighed down and with the feeling that people do not finish returning to theaters as they did before the pandemic. And although it is true that this summer has recovered a lot and we have very good examples of films that have done very well this year, we are still far below what was happening before the pandemic. We will see what response we have from the public and hopefully this is one of the films that people consider to go to theaters.
A new installment in which Tadeo will travel to Paris —where a large part of the plot takes place— and halfway around the world looking for a table with a curse so fearsome that even Napoleon wanted to bury it. Along with him the usual characters, including Mummy, the revelation of the second installment that here acquires more prominence and becomes the comic relief of the film and who is joined by new characters such as Ra-Amon-Ah, another mummy who will accompany them .
A movie buff computer
Enrique Gato was not going for director. He was a computer science student passionate about cinema who began to flirt with short films, although already with Tadeo Jones as the protagonist. In 2006 and 2008 he won the Goya for best animated short, but he still didn't even consider making a living from cinema. “Back then I didn't even imagine that I would be able to be a director. I didn't know what my life was aiming for in those years. In fact, my first vocation was computing. Look at how deviated my professional career began with respect to this and the time it took me to shape it, until I realized that I could be a film director, something that, as a child, you do not have in your head that you can get to do". In animation he found “a connection between the technological world and the artistic world”, and thus he began a career that is now in his fourth film.
One of his main concerns is that adults do not get bored watching Tadeo Jones movies. As a father, he gets angry when he notices that a movie only thinks about the little ones. That's why he has always hired writers who come from the world of comedy. On this occasion they are Manuel Burque and Josep Gatell in a delivery that is the one that "more effort has been put into so that the adult has a feeling that the film is for him". That is why there is "a huge job in getting adults to have their own reading."
The director believes that Tadeo has the rope for a while, because there are always topics that can be dealt with in a film. But he also assures that he does not want to "force". “This third installment has cost a lot. It was hard to figure out what we wanted to tell her and find something that was worthy of the franchise. I came to think at some point that it would not exist, because we did not find something powerful enough. Who knows if that will happen to us with a fourth, but for now the outlook is good and we have a feeling that people are still looking at the franchise fondly and waiting for those movies to happen. The answer, in a box office that Tadeo wants to beat again with the same forcefulness as ten years ago.