Italian box office success fails to export

Venice confab cites flat Anica figures for past two years

The recent resurgence of Italian cinema at the local box office is not matched by signs of any increase in international sales, according to a Venice fest confab.

Italy’s film industry has realistic prospects of ending 2011 having scored a whopping 40% share of the local theatrical market, which is worth close to $1 billion in total. But the country’s film exports over the 2009-10 two-year period are expected to generate a mere roughly $40 million at best, in line with foreign sales in the recent past, according to figures presented Wednesday on the Lido by Italo motion picture association Anica.

“In the past five years foreign sales have been static,” said confab moderator Federica Medolago Albani, noting that they are also limited to a handful of titles. “We have to figure out how to improve sales and promotion of Italian cinema abroad.”

But not all is at a standstill on Italy’s international front.

Medusa topper Giampaolo Letta said he has increasingly made “internationalization” his mantra.

“We need a creative effort to conceive projects with international potential from the outset,” he said.

As examples of this mindset Letta cited Giuseppe Tornatore’s big-budget Sicilian epic “Baaria,” which Medusa sold to 56 territories after it opened Venice two years ago. “Baaria” was sold to Outsider Pictures in the U.S.

Upcoming Italo pics with export potential that Medusa is involved in include Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Io e te,” and Sergio Castellitto’s Penelope Cruz starrer “Venuto al mondo” (Into the World) set in Sarajevo.

Medusa is also among financiers of Paolo Sorrentino’s Sean Penn starrer “This Must Be the Place,” touted as the template of an Italo pic with international scope.

And Gabriele Salvatores shoots this month on his first English-language pic “Siberian Education,” in which John Malkovich will play a Siberian mafia don. Pic is produced by Cattleya.

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