Ticket sales up 16% for first half of '06

ROME — The Italo B.O. is up 16% for the first half of 2006, with a total 51 million tickets sold, according to figures released Wednesday.

Grosses for the first six months totaled E301 million ($383 million) and saw U.S. titles commanding a 57.5% chunk of the market, while Italian movies accounted for a 25% share, according to Cinetel, which compiles national box office data.

Sony’s still-in-release “The Da Vinci Code” ($35 million to date) tops the chart, followed by popular comic Carlo Verdone’s “My Best Enemy” ($23.5 million), “Ice Age: The Meltdown” ($23.4 million), tyro helmer Fausto Brizzi’s surprise hit teenpic “Night Before Finals” ($15.3 million), and homegrown romancer “I Love You in Every Language in the World” ($12 million).

UIP’s “Mission: Impossible III” pulled in a paltry $7.5 million, less than Spike Lee’s heist pic “Inside Man” ($9 million), also from UIP.

Woody Allen’s “Match Point,” released by Medusa, pulled in $11.4 million, its highest European tally and almost half of pic’s Stateside take.

Italy continues to be plagued by an exceptionally dead summer season, with no major releases during the period when many Italians hit the beach.

It is the only European territory where “Superman Returns,” “Cars” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” are being held until the fall.

This causes a glut of product during the rest of the year. “In Italy, a movie stays on screens for 25%-30% less time compared with other European territories,” lamented Warner Bros. Italy topper Paolo Ferrari.

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