Why is there (basically) no sci-fi in Spanish?

So, that’s basically the question… I’m thinking mainly film and TV here. Why wasn’t there much science fiction created in Spanish?

My first thought was it’s more of an English/American cultural thing, but there is of course a robust enough history out there of German and Japanese interest in science fiction.

Spanish filmmaking goes back about as far as Hollywood does… and it’s not a “cost” thing, because early sci-fi was clearly done on a dime.

Even today it seems the Spanish language networks aren’t particularly interested in picking up El Doctor Quien or Estrella (I forget the word for Trek… Google Translate says excursión)

Don’t know the answer to the question in the OP

I really liked this movie however - Timecrimes

I do think it’s the only spanish SF movie I’ve seen.

Here is Wiki’s list of Spanish science fiction films.

There’s a separate list of Mexican SF film, although the list includes The Arrival, which was American, but set in Mexico. I think the reason for the scarcity isn’t a cultural thing, but just that Hollywood is so prolific that those interested in SF just watch the American stuff, perhaps dubbed into Spanish.

IMDB lists 298 feature films with Spanish as a language, most notably the very good Abra Los Ojos, which was remade into the very bad Vanilla Sky.

Viaje a las estrellas or just Star Trek. Wikipedia’s language option are good for non-literal translation.

Anything by Guillermo del Toro applies, although many might be more fantasy. His later stuff is of course English language. Sleep Dealer is a US-Mexico co-production, although I honestly forget what percentage is in which language.

I actually liked Vanilla Sky.

Though of course who among us knew at the time that was Tom Cruise being more normal than he actually is IRL :smiley:

You said ptimarily SF cinema and TV, but here’s what the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction online has to say about SF in Spain (which, of course, doesn’t include other Spanish-Speaking countries):


There’s only one brief paragraph on Spanish SF cinema:

There are also entries for many other Spanish-speaking countries. Here’s the one for Mexico (whioch has almost nothing on Mexican SF cinema):


Similarly, the longstanding TV SF franchise from Britain is Doctor Misterio or plain Doctor Who as in the original, depending on country and time period of the dub.

I’ve seen Magical Realism defined, fairly or unfairly, as “fantasy in Spanish.”

The Spanish-language, Mexican production of Dracula is considered one of the finest ever made. It was filmed on the same sets as the 1931 American version, at night when the American crew was not working.

In fact, the Spanish-language version is usually considered to be the better film. Looking this movie up, I noticed that the female lead in it, Lupita Tovar, is still alive at 103:


Carlos Villarias? Why not Lugosi? If the Hungarian could do his lines in English, he could do them in Spanish!

Maybe Villarias was actually the better actor.

Science fiction (as opposed to fantasy, which most people are using for examples) in literature was slow to develop in many countries, including Spain and Mexico.

And SF films in the US were extremely marginalized before Star Wars; most of the SF films of the 50s probably were never shown in Spain: War of the Words doesn’t seem to be, and Them! wasn’t premiered until eight years after it came out in the US (and probably didn’t have a wide release). The Incredible Shrinking Man took until 1972 (on TV) and 1989 (in theaters). No Mexican premiere date on any of these films is listed in the IMDB. Note that the first two of these, at least, were major successes in the US.

OTOH, Star Wars premiered in both countries with six months of the US premiere.

So without any exposure to science fiction, few people thought to make SF films. By the time SF became a major genre, SF was expected to be big budget special effects movies, something that the small Spanish and Mexican film industries would be reluctant to sign on to, since a failure could devastate them.

As a counterexample to this, I recall from my zealous reading of Famous Monsters of Filmland that Forrest J. Ackerman had a recurring feature where he printed pictures of movies (mostly 1950s monster films) along with the outrageous titles they were given in other countries. Many of these were in Spanish, although at this remove I couldn’t tell how many might have actually been from Spain itself, rather than shown in Mexico. It’s probably true that most of them weren’t shown in Spain (most of them were probably not shown outside the US. Ho big a market is there, internationally, for The Cape Canaveral Monsters and other such ultra-low-budget effluvia?), but I’ll wager that some of them were.
As for the state of SF in Spain and Mexico, see my post above.

I should add to my reply above that while Lugosi wasn’t a native English speaker, he had been appearing in American plays and films for several years when he was cast in Dracula. He was already a passible English speaker at the time, while he presumably knew no Spanish at all. The producers of the Spanish version of Dracula probably wanted to have everyone in their film speak Spanish natively. On the other hand, the producers of the English version seemed to like the way that Lugosi spoke with a distinct accent, and it turned out that audiences liked it too. You could argue that the accent is appropriate, since most of the film is about a Transylvanian man in England.