Italy's older screens vanishing

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ANEC, the Italian cinema operators association, reported Thursday that more than 250 cinemas have closed in Italy since the beginning of 2003, a fact the group says illustrates a trend toward an increased emphasis on multiscreen theaters.

The overall number of screens in Italy has grown in recent years as multiscreen cinemas have become more common in larger metropolitan areas. But 306 older screens — from the 254 shuttered cinemas — have disappeared.

The trend has been most pronounced in the wealthier northern regions, with Lombardy — the region that includes Milan — the home of 58 closed cinemas. Emilia Romagna, home to Bologna, saw 53 closures, while Tuscany was the next-hardest-hit region with 45, ANEC said.

According to ANEC, single- and double-screen neighborhood cinemas fare better in central and southern Italy. But the trend is present even in those regions: Rome and Naples are both among the cities that have seen the most cinema closures.

"Unfortunately, it is many of the most interesting cinemas that are closing their doors," an ANEC spokesman said.
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