Spanish Theater Owner Leads “Carrot Rebellion”

A clever Spanish theater owner came up with a literally organic way to avoid paying what he saw as a punitive tax increase. In Spain, recent austerity measures have raised sales tax on various commodities—including movie admissions. For Quim Marce, it meant that the duty on tickets to screening in his 300-seat theater would increase from eight to 21 percent. Quim knew that the local residents of Bescano, one in four of whom are unemployed if the national average applies to the municipality, wouldn’t stomach the increase. So to avoid the new penalty, Quim decided to go into the carrot business.

The sales tax for carrots in Spain remains at a modest four percent, so Quim charged 13€ per carrot (roughly $16), and let everyone who bought one enter the theatre for “free.” Quim told NPR, “We’ve got to do something so that we don’t pay this 21 percent, and [pay instead] something more fair.” Carrots are taxed so little because they are considered a “staple” of the Spanish lifestyle (who knew?), whereas theatre tickets get grouped in the same category as cars and clothing. But Bescano civil servant Pilar Baye says, “Culture shouldn’t be taxed so much. Culture should be accessible to all the people.”

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy unsuccessfully opposed the tax hike, and reportedly tens of thousands of citizens have taken to the streets to protest. Quim Marce has been the leader of what has been dubbed the “Carrot Rebellion,” and shows at his theatre have sold out. However, economist Fernando Fernandez says, “I mean, we may like it because it has to do with culture, and we like people going to the theater, but this is called tax evasion.”

Quim consulted a lawyer before launching the Carrot Rebellion and says everything is above board. He even has support from the Bescano’s mayor. Quim told NPR, “There’s always an announcement before the show begins that says photos are not permitted and that you should turn off your cell phone. So now we’re going to add, ‘no chomping loudly on your carrots during the show.'” Little does Quim know, at the concession stands of the Angelika in Manhattan and the Landmark in Los Angeles, carrots actually do cost $16.

Producers Aim To Kill Machete Kills

The Machete series is doubtless the most profitable thing to come out of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse B-movie double feature experiment (Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving massacre never got green lit, I guess). What started as a fake trailer before Planet Terror has become a potentially lucrative franchise that has proved Danny Trejo as a box office draw. The first Machete earned back almost quadruple its budget at the box office alone, and Danny has acted in a staggering 27 films since its 2010 release. A sequel to the low budget violent vengeance tale was all but inevitable. 

The independently produced sequel, Machete Kills, brings back Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jessica Alba, along with a dizzying ensemble cast including Antonio Banderas, Amber Heard, Lady Gaga, Vanessa Hudgens, Cuba Gooding Jr., Sofia Vergara, Mel Gibson, and of course, Charlie Sheen as the president of the United States. Open Road Films managed to nab distribution rights in October for the second film in what is meant to be a trilogy. The third being Machete Kills Again…In Space! That’s a movie you’ll want to see opening night. 

Even though the film is completed, Overnight Productions, the producers on the first film, are trying to block the release of the sequel. They aim to terminate the agreement saying that Robert Rodriguez has no right to make a sequel based on the “Machete” character. Overnight wants the rights returned to them unless Rodriguez agrees to pay $2 million in damages. Additionally, Rick Schwartz, executive at Overnight, and executive producer of films like Black Swan and The Aviator, claims that Rodriguez’s company didn’t provide necessary budget information to determine Overnight’s producer’s fee, which could amount to more than $250,000.

The movie is set to come out on April 11, 2013, but not before Rodriguez’s Quick Draw Productions pays a few extra dollars—at least in legal fees.