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Italian movie admissions up 13%

Local pics take 31%

ROME — Driven by a local pic resurgence, Italo admissions are expected to close 2007 up 13% to 114 million, making it a benchmark year for the Italian industry.

Seven Italo titles are among the 2007 top 20, with national box office compiler Cinetel estimating a 31% yearly market share for homegrown product, up from 24% in 2006.

Meanwhile, Hollywood’s Italo market share is stable at 56% with total 2007 grosses for the country currently tallied at around Euros 600 million ($880 million).

The top three at the Italo B.O. were “Shrek the Third,” which took $30 million, local romancer “Manual of Love 2,” which made $28 million, and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” which pulled $27 million.

While Italo industryites are hailing 2007 as the country’s best year at the movies in two decades, the 114 million attendance figure is actually less than 1998, which saw 118 million Italo admissions, albeit driven by “Titanic.”

The Cinetel estimate is also less than the 120 million admissions for 2007 recently bandied by Italo culture czar Francesco Rutelli.

Still, while the Italo B.O. remains worth a bit less than most other major European territories, 2007 marks a significant growth spurt, likely to be sustained by strong upcoming local releases, such as Paolo Sorrentino’s “Il Divo,” a biopic of Italy’s shady elder statesman, Giulio Andreotti; Antonello Grimaldi’s “Calm Chaos,” toplining Nanni Moretti in an acting only turn; and Matteo Garrone’s “Gomorra,” based on an eponymous Mafia expose which has been topping the book best-seller charts for months.

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