Biggest film in Italian history

ROME — In its seventh weekend out at sea in Italian theaters, “Titanic” became the highest-grossing film in the country’s history — and returning the mantle to a U.S. production for the first time since 1994.

National B.O. monitoring service Cinetel, which charts around 74% of Italy’s total screens, shows the James Cameron film inching past local comedy “The Cyclone.” Complete national figures released by distribs show “Titanic” leading by a wider margin, which is certain to increase.

According to Cinetel, “Titanic’s” $32.5 million nudged past the $32 million that the Italo comedy had earned at the end of its run. Nationwide, Fox reports grosses of $46.4 million to date, while “The Cyclone,” a Cecchi Gori release, topped out at just under $44 million.

Prior to the ’96 bow of “Cyclone,” Italy’s all-time B.O. champion was the Roberto Benigni comedy “The Monster.” The 1994 Filmauro hit nabbed the top spot from Universal’s “Jurassic Park,” the last U.S. pic to hold the title.

Fox is predicting grosses of at least an additional $10 million before “Titanic” winds up its run in Italy. But execs at the studio’s Italian division said a major Oscar haul could push the total over 100 billion lire ($59 million), a staggering figure in a territory where few major hits make even half that amount.

Attention surrounding the Fox release has increased in recent weeks as Leonardo DiCaprio mania has taken hold of teenage girls across Italy.

The country’s newsstands are awash with cover stories about the star, while unfounded reports of his presence in Rome have led to a wave of false sightings and a series of look-alikes exploiting their resemblance to the actor to make headway with girls.

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