U.S. movies nab $515 million at B.O. this year

Hollywood movies command a whopping 65% of the Italian box office so far this year — a chunk worth $515 million — with Universal Pictures Italy solidly ensconced as the top distrib.But the market share for local pics dropped significantly between January and November.

Italo admissions remain stable at 82 million, compared with 83 million tickets sold during the same 11 months in 2008.

But grosses are up about $40 million to $784 million due to the higher ticket price of 3D titles, which are the year’s big novelty.

Accordingly, the top two Italo titles are Fox’s “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” and Paramount/DreamWorks’ “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,” both 3D pics, ahead of local laffer “Christmas in Rio” from Filmauro.

With 400 3D screens — and many more in the works — Italo exhibs tout the country as being at the forefront of the 3D phenom in Europe.

Universal accounts for a 16% share of the Italo market, worth $150 million, followed by local powerhouse Medusa with a 12.7% share, worth $118 million. Warner Bros. is a close third with a 12% share, worth $112 million.

Hollywood’s 65% share held is up 4% on last year.

Meanwhile, the local market share held by Italian movies dropped 5% to 20% in 2009 so far, according to figures from national compiler Cinetel. This drop is partly attributed to the closure of 750 single-screen cinemas in urban areas.

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