Italy bucks downward b.o. trend

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FLORENCE, Italy -- Italian cinema is bucking the worldwide trend of declining ticket sales, already surpassing last year's level for ticket sales and setting a pace to surge past the modern record for sales set in 2004, according to the national cinema association ANICA.

According to Riccardo Tozzi, the president of the National Audiovisual and Multimedia Industry Assn., or ANICA, sales this year are on pace to approach 120 million tickets, which would be ahead of the three-year-old record of 116 million tickets sold. The 2004 record was the highest since the statistics started being kept in the 1970s.

With six weeks to go in the year, ticket sales have already surpassed last year's levels of 91.6 million tickets sold.

"We're the only western country in which the number of tickets sold is on the rise," Tozzi said.

Italian films are on pace to represent nearly a third of the total box office, lower than the strong first half of the year -- when Italian films owned 45% of the domestic market -- but ahead of about 25% in each of the last two years.

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