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Hollywood ups share of Italian gross

U.S. pics take 60% slice of market

Hollywood is reaping bigger returns at the Italian box office, commanding a 60% share of admissions worth $391 million in grosses this year, up 5% on 2007.

The domestic market share slid from last year’s 31% to a 27% share, according to figures through Sunday. However, local pics look set to dominate the Christmas season and are expected to push the local share back to 30% by year’s end.

Universal’s “Kung Fu Panda” is the top grosser so far with a $22 million haul, followed by Warner Bros.’ “I Am Legend” at $18 million, and local laffer “Big, Bad, and…Verdone” at $16.7 million via domestic distributor Filmauro.

All told, the Italo B.O. earned $649 million in grosses on admissions down 4% to 83 million, according to figures released by Italian motion picture association Anica.

The early year-end results, which follow a banner year in 2007, were announced Tuesday at a packed Rome press conference ahead of an annual Italo exhibitors’ confab, amid a mood of cautious optimism in the face of recessionary fears.

Carlo Bernaschi, topper of Italo multiplex exhib org Anem, said that “what is important is that Italian cinema is holding its ground.”

Bernaschi noted that the only European territory expected to grow its B.O. is France, “thanks to strong local production.”

For Italo producers, 2008 was marked by a strong showing in Cannes, where Matteo Garrone’s “Gomorrah” and Paolo Sorrentino’s “Il Divo” both took nods that boosted the local box office. “Gomorrah” scored a whopping $13 million domestic take via 01 Distribuzione.

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