Box office grosses total $844.5 million

ROME — Driven by a banner crop of local movies, Italian admissions are up 15% since January, with Hollywood still commanding a more than 60% market share.

Italo admissions between Jan. 1 and Nov. 21 this year total 94.5 million, boding well that ticket sales will pass the key 100 million mark by year’s end.

Box office grosses through Nov. 21 total $844.5 million, a 23% uptick compared with the same period in 2009, due only in part to the higher ticket cost of 3D titles.

Hollywood accounts for $539 million of the Italo haul, roughly a 63% portion, on a par with 2009, with “Avatar,” of course, leading the pack with an $88 million take.

The Italian market share has risen about 10% this year to a 30% piece of the pie, thanks to six Italo titles among the country’s top 15 to date.

The year’s smash homegrown success is “Benvenuti al Sud,” a local remake of Gallic megahit “Welcome to the Sticks,” co-produced by Medusa with Cattleya.

Now in its ninth week on release, “Benvenuti” has pulled more than $38 million, the highest local gross ever for an Italian movie after Roberto Benigni’s “Life Is Beautiful.”

Figures were announced Thursday by the country’s main trade orgs, ahead of the annual Giornate Professionali industry confab, dedicated this year to late great producer Dino De Laurentiis.

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