Italy's Movie Attendance Falls 13% During Christmas Weekend

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ROME – Cinema attendance over the holiday weekend declined 13.1 percent compared to the comparison period last year, cinema monitoring company Cinetel reported Tuesday, in line with an overall drop in consumer spending but contrary to an earlier trend that showed cinema attendance stabilizing over the final months of the year.

Cinetel reported that sales over Dec. 24-26 totaled €18.5 million ($24.1 million), compared to €21.2 million ($27.6 million) over the Dec. 23-25 weekend a year ago. Similarly, the number of tickets sold was 2.52 million, compared to 2.97 million a year ago, a decline of 15.1 percent.

Cinetel said that part of the decline was due to the fact that Christmas eve, generally the weakest day of the year for cinema attendance, fell this year on a Saturday, usually the strongest day of the week for attendance. Last year, the negative impact of Christmas eve was smaller because it fell on a Friday.

The decline is more or less in line with overall declines in consumer spending: Preliminary figures show Italians spent around 10-12 percent less over the holiday season compared to the same period in 2010, though final figures released in January might change slightly. Analysts attribute the falling spending figures to erosion in consumer confidence, slow economic growth, and political turmoil in the country.

But it is also a negative sign for a cinema industry that showed signs of recovery in November: Ticket sales that month were about flat, reversing six straight months of declines on the back of unusually strong performances from Italian films. Figures for December as a while and for the whole year will not be available until early January.

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