Hollywood pics more popular in Italy

U.S. movies take 65% share of box office

Hollywood upped its share of the Italian movie market by more than 7% in the first half of this year to a hefty 65% of grosses, worth a whopping $292 million.

One of the strongest U.S. showings in recent memory comes amid a 2% drop in overall admissions to 50 million. Of that figure, Hollywood accounted for 32 million of the tickets sold between Jan. 1 and June 30, according to national box office compiler Cinetel.

Italian movies sustained an 8% drop in grosses to $136 million, a 24% market share, reversing a trend that had seen local pics reap solid returns with auds over the past three years.

The top grosser is Sony’s “Angels and Demons,” with $25.5 million, followed by local laffer “Italians,” which captured $17 million via Filmauro, and Sony’s Will Smith starrer “Seven Pounds,” a Hollywood pic helmed by Italian Gabriele Muccino, which scored $15.5 million.

Notable among the eight Hollywood titles in the Italo top 10 are Warner Bros.’ “Gran Torino,” which took $12.5 million, and “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” which pulled $11 million via 01 Distribuzione and has paved the way for 3-D moviegoing in Italy.

Local industryites have several theories why homegrown pics aren’t doing so well, the main one being that the rise in multiplexes, now 60% of Italy’s total 3,141 screens, promotes the aud for Hollywood blockbusters while the number of smaller city cinemas is decreasing.

Given that only Italo commercial comedies play well in plexes, Riccardo Tozzi, prexy of producers’ organization Anica and topper of indie shingle Cattleya, in which Universal holds a stake, has urged the government to support smaller urban venues to bolster the local industry.

However, it is also true that this year’s Italo output is simply not comparable in terms of sheer appeal to 2008, which saw Italy shine at Cannes with “Gomorrah” and “Il Divo,” both of which scored well with the home crowd.

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