Local films stay strong in Italy

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ROME -- Italian films' share of the overall boxoffice here shrunk during the last two months but remained strong, according to figures from three leading industry groups, which also showed that the overall boxoffice remains larger than at the same point in 2006.

The top-grossing film to date, local entry "Manuale d'Amore 2" (Love Manual 2), took in $25.7 million. That placed it ahead of such blockbusters as "Spider-Man 3" ($24 million) and "The Pursuit of Happyness" ($20.9 million).

All told, Italian films took five of the top 10 slots during the first five months of the year.

Italy's share of the overall boxoffice checked in at 35.1%, down from 45% at the end of the first quarter, but still higher than the 31% at the same time last year. The percentage of the market held by U.S. films held steady at 55%, with most of Italy's gains coming at the expense of other European countries.

The battle between U.S. and Italian titles seems set to continue over the summer, with studios increasingly willing to release big-budget films during the traditionally slow summer months in Italy. On the horizon, Italy's "L'Uomo di Vetro" (Glass Man), "L'Eletto" (The Elected) and "Il Sole Nero" (The Black Sun) will come up against U.S. entries "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" and "Transformers."

The overall boxoffice, meanwhile, is on pace to show growth for the third consecutive year, though less convincingly than after three months. Totals for the January-May period were 7.5% higher than during the same span in 2006, reaching €293 million ($396 million).

The boxoffice information came from Italy's National Association of Film Exhibitors, the National Cinemagraphic, Audiovisual, and Multimedia Industrial Assn. and the National Multiplex Assn.
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