Universal quits Italian trade body

Distributor unhappy at losing contest

ROME — Universal Pictures Intl. has irately withdrawn from Italy’s motion picture association, Anica, in protest over the org’s shifting criteria in assigning an annual top local distrib nod.

UPI had originally been announced the winner of Italy’s so-called Biglietto d’Oro (Golden Ticket) prize, given amid some fanfare at the country’s annual exhibitors’ confab, which kicks off Dec. 1 in Sorrento.

However, at a presser held by Anica in Rome on Nov. 25, it was announced, to UPI’s surprise, that local distribbery Medusa would be the Golden Ticket winner, based on new rules.

The sudden rule change extended the cutoff date for 2008 prize period beyond Nov. 15 — when it had been originally set — to include the entire month of November.

Indeed, after Nov. 15 Medusa did overtake UPI to score Italy’s current top distributor spot by a fractional margin.

According to figures through Nov. 21 from national box office Cinetel, Medusa holds a 17.8% market share while UPI’s is a tad lower at 17.7%.

UPI did distribute the country’s top grossing 2008 release, “Kung Fu Panda,” which pulled $22 million in Italy.

“Universal has always been concerned only about the performances of its own pictures and its commercial rapport with its clients,” UPI Italy topper Richard Borg said in a statement.

“That’s why we have decided not to become involved in this sad farce over market ranking,” he added.

There was no immediate comment from Anica, which is headed by Warner Bros. Italia topper Paolo Ferrari.

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