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After bombing at the U.S. box office, Italo helmer Gabriele Muccino’s soccer romcom “Playing for Keeps” has scored in Italy, pulling $2.6 million in its opening frame and helping to kick off 2013 nicely for local helmers, who lost a roughly 10% market share last year.

The Gerard Butler starrer, released wide in Italian cinemas by Medusa on 435 screens and scoring the numero uno slot, is being dubbed “Muccino’s revenge” by the Italo press. Muccino has said in local interviews that the release strategy for “Playing” in the U.S. was flawed because pic’s core femme aud was too busy Christmas shopping when it bowed.

Stateside, “Playing” has pulled $13 million to date after its flop $6 million opening over the Dec. 7 weekend via FilmDistrict.

Muccino’s Italo boost follows the strong local bow of helmer Giuseppe Tornatore’s English-language artworld mystery, “The Best Offer,” starring Geoffrey Rush. It has pulled a solid $6.7 million locally in two frames via Warner Bros., and is currently ensconced in the No. 2 Italo slot.

“The year has started out well,” said Riccardo Tozzi, prexy of Italo motion picture org Anica at its annual presser on Tuesday about local box office data. “The only way for the Italian market to grow is if local movies click. It’s crucial, and that is what we are working on.”

According to Anica data Italo B.O. grosses were down 8% to $811 million in 2012, with Hollywood accounting for 53% of the pie.

Meanwhile the market share for Italo films plunged by more than 10% to 25% of the country’s total intake.

Italy’s top distributor in 2012 was Warner Bros. with $180 million for a 22% share of total Italo grosses.