Co-prod’n lifts Italian pic biz in ’01

Market share for homegrown features rose to 19.4%

ROME — Despite complaints of a production slump due to cuts in feature film investment from national television, 2001 was a good year for the Italian film biz, with the annual production tally now consistently above 100 features.

Figures released Wednesday by Italian producers association Anica show there were 103 features produced last year, the same as in 2000. However, co-productions doubled from 17 to 35, with Italy taking the majority stake in 22 of those projects.

Italian production investment rose from 378 billion lire ($189 million) in 2000 to 407 billion lire ($203.5 million) last year. Local coin pumped into co-prods rose dramatically to $77 million in 2001, up from just $19 million the previous year.

Local pix popular

The number of admissions rose from 13 million in 2000 to 15 million last year, boosting the market share for homegrown features to 19.4%. This increase was due to the unexpectedly wide success of films such as “The Last Kiss,” “Ignorant Fairies,” “The Son’s Room” and “Santa Maradona,” from outside the standard field of mainstream comedy hits. Successes such as these lured the key 18-35 demographic back to theaters.

By contrast, U.S. films suffered a drop at the Italian box office, sliding from 69.5% in 2000 to 59.7% last year. The number of U.S.-made features imported for release also fell by 31 titles. The market quota for pics from the U.K. hit a solid 10.4%, driven largely by the success of “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”

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