Local films boosting Italy b.o.

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ROME -- Italian cinema receipts are surging this year, with ticket sales 22% higher than during the same period in 2005 -- and the surge has come on the back of unusually successful Italian fare rather than foreign blockbusters.

Cinema monitoring firm Cinetel reported that so far, February receipts are up 41% year-on-year, thanks in large part to such highly successful Italian films as "Manuale d'Amore 2" (Love Manual 2) and "Notte prima degli esami -- Oggi" (Night Before Finals -- Today), which became the first Italian film to earn more than $1 million in a single day when it opened on Feb. 14.

Though Cinetel says it's too early to make conclusions based on the entire year, the strong results are encouraging -- especially with big foreign films like "Borat" yet to open in Italy.

Through Feb. 18, local films have accounted for slightly more than 40% of the entire Italian boxoffice, compared with less than 20% most years and 25% in 2006.
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