Italian box office up 5% in 2009

Higher price 3D tickets drove country's hike in intake

ROME — Italy’s box office in 2009 scored a better-than-expected 5% rise in grosses to E623 million ($891 million), according to national box office compiler Cinetel.

Admissions were stable at 99 million tickets, while the higher price of 3D tickets drove the country’s small but significant increase in total intake.

Italy delivered grosses almost on a par with Spain, which had a record-breaking year.

As previously announced, the top two Italo pics were Fox’s “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” and Paramount/DreamWorks’ “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,” both 3D pics, ahead of local laffer “Christmas in Beverly Hills” from Filmauro.

Hollywood commanded a whopping 65% share of the haul, while the Italian share dropped some 5% to about 20%.

While most Italo exhibbers are content with the outcome of what they feared would be a crisis-plagued year, the press and sectors of the local film community are up in arms over the absence of several English-language titles from local screens.

Films without Italo distribution include James Hillcoat’s “The Road,” Walter Salles’ “Linha de Passe” and fellow Brazilian helmer Fernando Meirelles’ “Blindness,” Jim Jarmush’s “The Limits of Control,” Miramax/Disney laffer “Adventureland” and Bernard Tavernier’s “In the Electric Mist.”

Distributors blame the closure of 750 single-screen cinemas in urban areas for the tougher market conditions for niche titles.

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