European markets head into the summer months
by Camillo De Marco
- In Italy the domestic share of the market is noticeably smaller than it is in France and Spain. For Oscar-winning producer Francesca Cima, the release date is the last step in the planning of a film
The summer film season in Italy is of noticeably lesser importance than it is in the main European film markets. This according to data presented at the conference “Viaggio nel cuore dell’estate. Cosa accade in Italia e nei principali mercati europei” (lit. Journeying into the heart of summer. What happens in Italy and the main European markets”) held by ANICA, ANEC and ANEM and organised by Box Office at Ciné a Riccione last week. According to the specialised film magazine (sources: Cinetel, boxofficemojo.com), the top summer title in Italy takes considerably less than the top title in the other countries analysed (France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain, where the period between June and August generates between 22 and 27% of the industry’s annual takings), whilst release dates match those of the original versions of films, but there are no animated blockbusters (see PDF slides). Finally, domestic films are most definitely a marginal feature of the summer film season in Italy: the situation is much healthier in Spain, Germany and France (24.6% of the French market in the period between June and August is made up of French films).
“If we look at the figures, we can see that in Italy the same blockbusters are released in the summer as in other markets. All that’s missing are a couple of big animated films to pull the numbers up to those achieved by Spain between June and August”, noted Andrea Occhipinti, the president of ANICA-affiliated distributors, who spoke at the conference. “Of course, distributors decide on the release dates for films for legitimate reasons, but I understand why exhibitors complain when the release date of a potential blockbuster is pushed back to after the summer period”. For example, in May we had the controversial deferment of the release date for Independence Day: Resurgence by 20th Century Fox from 6 July to 8 September. The film was released in the United States on 24 June, as it was in a number of other countries (including the United Kingdom), and in most other countries it will be released at some point in July (1-7 in Spain, 20-27 in France).
Basically, according to distributors, whatever the title, films generally don’t do as well in Italy during the summer as they do in the main European markets. Why? Fewer people tend to go to the cinema during the hotter months. “We have to try and turn this trend on its head with the help of more effective advertising of films”, concluded Occhipinti. “As well as using promotional initiatives, we have to make viewers see that there are films worth going to see in summer. We must also work with the institutions to explore the possibility of establishing specific incentives, such as tax credits for films that are released in summer or specific types of contributions for Italian films that are released”.
Gianluca Pantano, director of programming at Uci Cinemas, Giorgio Ferrero from Ferrero Cinemas and the president of ANEC Lazio, and Andrea Malucelli, president of UNICI, all agreed on the need for synergies between all stakeholders in the sector. “The general summer offering still lacks animated films, arthouse films and Italian films, which would pull in the segment of the public we need to grow”, suggested Pantano. “For our part we’re doing everything we can in terms of local advertising, screening periods and support for films”, added Ferrero. “But to all intents and purposes we can’t do anything to extend the season, we must simply stand by and watch. The industry is in serious trouble as takings aren’t enough to cover operating costs”. Malucelli proposed “planning summer releases three years at a time so that producers, distributors and exhibitors an work on growing the summer market together. I believe that adding animated and arthouse films into the mix with American blockbusters, which are already released on the same day as they are in the USA over the summer months, could be one way of achieving the same results as in Spain”.
For Francesca Cima, president of the producers at Anica, "The release date is considered to be the last step in the planning of a film, when instead it should actually be the starting point. No distributor has ever asked me to work together to screen a movie suitable for a summer release. But luckily, this is an attitude that we're changing. We're ready for a type of Italian cinema that aims to converse with its audience."
(Translated from Italian)