Exhibs protest against movie tix tax

Italian exhibs have threatened to shutter theaters in protest after the cash-strapped government ordered a €1 ($1.30) tax on movie tickets to finance the extension of tax breaks for local and foreign shoots through 2013.

The tax, which kicks off in July, will raise an estimated $62 million per year for production incentives and around $90 million for the national film fund.

Paolo Protti, prexy of the National Assn. of Cinema Retailers, has announced a campaign to inform moviegoers “about the government’s decision to stick its hand in their pockets,” basically forcing auds to finance local movies.

Chiefs of the two biggest loops, The Space and UCI, are threatening to pull Italian pics from their screens unless the tax is spread across other distribution platforms, including TV, pay per view, web and home video.

The fear is that raising ticket prices will discourage audiences and hinder the country’s cinema boom. Admissions were up 11% to 110 million in 2010 and attendance for 2011 is already up 50% on the same time last year, driven by local laffers.

For foreign producers looking to shoot in Italy, the good news is they can now tap into the tax credits, which offer a 25% deduction for productions capped at $7 million, payable through an Italian executive producer, until 2013. Furthermore, as of January, international shoots no longer have to pay a previously existing 20% value added tax.

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