Country Focus: Italy
FEdS 2014 report: a year of transition
by Camillo De Marco
- 2014 was a controversial year for the film industry, which glimpsed the first signs of recovery in the midst of the enduring effects of the economic crisis. Paying the price for the crisis is, above all, the box office, with takings down not only in small theatres, along with investments. A year of transition, then, as demonstrated by the detailed analysis of the 2014 Report on the Film Market and Industry in Italy, which was presented today at the headquarters of the Cinema Research Centre of the Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo and the Directorate-General for Cinema of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities.
In the fifth consecutive year of growth, Italy was one of the ‘top ten’ film industries in the world, with a record 201 Italian films produced (34 more than in 2013). Italy overtook the United Kingdom and is now tenth, hot on the heels of Japan. With 194 films, it also made it onto the list of the ‘top ten’ industries in Europe to produce 100% national films for the first time since 2000, nabbing first place ahead of the other four big producer countries in the European Union and on the same continent: France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain.
Despite this increase in the number of films produced, the report also shows a worrying decrease in the number of international co-productions being made and a steady decline in average investments. Last season saw a drop in capital flows of €323.4 million, a decline of 26.41% compared to 2009.
Moreover, the other European film industries indicated above didn’t see peaks in production either. In France, total funding, after four consecutive years of decline, fell under the €1 billion mark for the first time in twenty years (read news article). In the United Kingdom, funding, after climbing back up for two years, reached a record high of £1.47 billion (€2,012 billion) – in 2013 this was just €1.49 billion – for a limited production of 223 films (the lowest number since 1994): 100 films fewer than the previous year and 150 fewer than five years previously. In Spain there was a sharp fall in production, with just 26 feature films made compared to 76 in 2013, and a 50% cut in national investments, partly offset by the exponential growth in the number of co-productions, which rose to 100 from just 68 in the previous year.
A decisive and these days essential role is played by tax credits (which France and the United Kingdom recently spoke out about to further strengthen its effect). It is this form of indirect support that has kept the financial needs of Italian films, although these have been decreasing over the last three years, steady, bringing in over €64 million for new projects in 2014 and encouraging production companies to invest €32 million along with the initiatives of investors from outside the film industry.
The analysis of the flow of resources and the cycle of investments reveals that a combined effect of this – in addition to an increase in production and capital needs – is a split in the value of each unit of product. As a result, in 2014 Italian film industry suffered severe involution, as shown by the average cost of a film.
The over-production of films was reflected in their quality. Those made with industrial costs of under €200 thousand set a record, both in terms of the number of films produced, at 69, and the proportion of Italian films they represented (35.56%). Only 25 were made with budgets of over €3.5 million, in what might be considered the business class of Italian film, defending the most representative benchmark in terms of quality, success at the box office and competition at international level.