Italian Box Office Hits Ten-Year High

U.S. films take 60% of $985 million Italian market in 2010.


ROME -- The recovery in the Italian film sector is official, with box-office receipts for 2010 nearly 18% higher than the previous year and more tickets sold than in any other year in a decade, according to figures released Monday from the Italian cinema monitoring company Cinetel.

In Italy, 2009 was the weakest year since 2006 in terms of tickets sold, as a sluggish economy and a few big blockbusters either from domestic filmmakers or from abroad delivered a weak overall performance. But 2010 reversed the trend, with 110 million tickets sold – more than any year in the last decade and 11% more than a year ago – and total box office receipts of a record €735 million ($985 million), 18% more than in 2009.

Much of the increase came from foreign films, with 20th Century Fox’s Avatar raking in €65.7 million ($88.1 million), more than double the year’s next most popular film. Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, and the latest films from the Harry Potter and Shrek franchises were all in the top five for the year.

Homegrown fare finished the year with four films in the top ten, led by Medusa production Benvenuto al Sud (Welcome to the South), which earned €29.7 million ($39.8 million), good enough for third place on the year-end list. Natale in Sudafrica (Christmas in South Africa) was eighth of the list with €14.1 million ($18.9 million) in what was an off year for Filmauro’s annual Christmas travel comedy franchise. It was in the first time in six years that the annual installment failed to finish in the top half dozen films of the year.

For the year, Italian films controlled 27.3% of the market, down slightly from last year due mostly to the huge performance from Avatar, which helped the U.S. market share in Italy rise slightly to 60.3%. U.K. productions were third on the strength of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.