Country Focus: Italy
Positive 2008 results could worsen in 2009
by Camillo de Marco
- The Italian market is holding strong according to ANICA’s annual report. In 2008, the number of Italian productions increased and overall box office revenue declined only slightly from 2007, but many worry over the fate of public funding.
Says Riccardo Tozzi, president of ANICA producers: "There was a huge rise in films produced – an overall 154, 30 more than in 2007 – due above all to the growth of low budget films – 29, compared to five two years ago. However, box office returns from co-productions were insufficient, while state funding for co-productions has increased in the last two years".
The imminent introduction of a tax credit will increasingly favour the contribution of private capital, with increments estimated at 10-15%, yet there remains the problem of cuts to the Entertainment Industry Fund, which no longer guarantees to cinema 25% of public financing. Ironically, "without this funding…cinema will be financing the state and not vice versa", adds Tozzi, who says the situation must be remedied as soon as possible, "otherwise we will need to mobilise all branches within the industry".
The overall box office in 2008 was €593.7m, from 99.3 million admissions, a slight drop from 2007 (respectively, -3.8% at the box office and -4.1% in admissions). The market share of Italian films is nevertheless also holding, at 29%, thus continuing the positive trend of recent years.
Universal leads the list of top 10 distribution companies of 2008, with 49 films and €117m at the box office, for approximately 20% of the market share. They are followed by Medusa Film (17%), 01 Distribution (11%), Warner Bros (10%) and FilmAuro (8%).
Twenty-eight Italian films grossed over €1m in 2008, almost reaching the 2007 record of 29. Comedies, as usual, scored highest with audiences, yet the list includes a variety of genres and arthouse titles that were also very successful.
Lastly, the problematic relationship continues with broadcasters, "who buy films without airing them, or who air them at unreasonable hours,” accuses Tozzi.