Foreign fare needs a good hook

Indies aim to draw auds from homegrown hits, 3D blockbusters

Infidel

ITALY

In Italy, foreign indies are getting slammed by the country’s mania for 3D and the strong showings of quality local titles.

That said, pics with a hook for teen auds, such as Heath Ledger’s last movie, “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” out in Italy via Moviemax; or highbrow comedies like Radhu Mihailanu’s “The Concert,” released by BIM; or with family appeal plus star power, like Lasse Hallstrom’s Richard Gere-starrer “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale,” via Lucky Red, have performed above par.

By contrast, buzz titles like Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet,” Lone Scherfig’s “An Education” and even Martin Scorsese’s solid “Shutter Island” all underperformed. “Shutter Island,” which pulled a passable $9.4 million via Medusa, still took less than local helmer Ferzan Ozpetek’s coming-out-of-the-closet comedy “Loose Cannons,” which took $12 million via 01 Distribuzione.

Also contributing to a critical climate for indie distribution in Italy is the fact that main broadcasters RAI and Mediaset aren’t buying much and pay TV, largely repped by Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia, pays peanuts. Meanwhile, like elsewhere, rampant piracy has caused a double-digit homevid drop, while VOD is not catching on.

Total 2009 box office: $891 million

Total 2009 releases: 857

Top 2009 indie film: “New Moon,” $22 million

Top 2010 indie pickups:

• “Precious,” Fandango

• “The Infidel,” Mikado

• “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” Medusa

• “Bel Ami,” RAI Cinema

• “Serious Moonlight,” BIM

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