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Hollywood pix sink Italo B.O.

Grosses were down 7.1% to $648 million

ROME — Disappointing Hollywood blockbusters are the main reason for a 7.3% drop in admissions in 2005 at the Italian box office, according to a report released on Tuesday by Italo entertainment trade org AGIS.

Grosses were down 7.1% to $648 million.

U.S. product accounted for 53% of admissions last year, down from 64% in 2004.

Among Hollywood underperformers are “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith,” which made a mere $10 million; “Fantastic Four,” which grossed $10.7 million; and “King Kong,” which has taken $10.2 million five weeks into its Italo release.

However, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” hauled in a hefty $23.4 million, proving lavish, effects-laden tales are still a strong draw for Italo kids and their families. The year’s top grosser was “Madagascar,” which took in $25 million.

Italian movies increased their market share by 4% to 24.8% of admissions in 2005, thanks in part to commercially viable dramas including Michele Placido’s gangster epic “Criminal Novel,” Cristina Comencini’s incest-themed “Don’t Tell” (Italy’s foreign-language Oscar entry) and Ferzan Ozpetek’s spiritual “Sacred Heart.”

Roberto Benigni’s Iraq-set comic romancer “The Tiger and the Snow” pulled in $17.5 million — less than “Pinocchio” or “Life Is Beautiful,” but still sizable.

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