Italy b.o. soars in '07; best year since '70s

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ROME -- It's official: 2007 was the best year at the Italian boxoffice in a generation.

Year-end figures released Thursday by cinema monitoring company Cinetel showed boxoffice revenue and total tickets sold were both up more than 12% compared with 2006. Ticket sales were also about 6% higher than in 2004, the previous best year.

Reports have circulated for the past month that the 2007 totals would be stronger than any since the 1970s, when television surpassed cinema as the country's top source of entertainment.

A total of 103.6 million tickets were sold -- the first time more than 100 million tickets have been sold in Italy since 1978 -- producing 617.6 million euros ($914 million) in revenue. Those figures were 12.3% and 12.9% higher, respectively, than the same figures for 2006.

The final figures showed strong results for Italian films, which took two of the three top slots for the year and nine of the top 20. All told, Italian films represented 26.9% of the total boxoffice -- the strongest year in nearly two decades -- second only to the 55.5% for U.S.-made fare. Films associated with the U.K. were third with 8.7% of the total, with more than half of that coming from two films: "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and the James Bond thriller "Casino Royale."

"Shrek the Third" was the year's top-grossing film, taking in $29.9 million, but it was followed closely by two Filmauro productions, Fausto Brizzi's comedy "Natale in Crociera" ($28.6 million) and Giovanni Veronesi's love story "Manuale d'Amore 2" ($28.3 million). "Phoenix" ($27.5 million) and "Spider-Man 3" ($26.6 million) rounded out the top five.

Next were four U.S. films -- "Ratatouille," "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," "The Simpsons Movie" and "The Pursuit of Happyness" -- followed by three Italian films, "Una Moglie Bellissima" (A Beautiful Wife), "Ho Voglia di Te" (I Want You), and "Notte Prima Degli Esami" (The Night Before Finals).

Mediaset's Medusa, with a slate that mixed Hollywood films with local productions, was the country's top distributor with a 17.3% market share in revenue terms. Warner Bros. Italia, Universal Italia, and 20th Century Fox Italia were the next three, followed by two Italian distributors: 01 Distribution and Filmauro.
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