Italian cinema admissions down

First half of the year marks 8.4% decrease

ROME -- Ticket sales at Italian cinemas shrank by 8.4% over the first six months of the year, the Italian authors and editors association said Wednesday -- the first time the figures for the first half failed to surpass those for the comparison period in four years.

According to SIAE, which officially certifies attendance figures in Italy, moviegoers spent 346 million euros ($443 million) between January and the end of June. A spokesman for the group said the reduction came because of economic worries in Italy combined with fewer big-name films than in previous years.

Still, SIAE said, spending on entertainment in general fared better than the cinema industry, with Italians spending 1.51 billion euros ($1.93 billion) on all types of entertainment, including cinema, theater, concerts and sporting events. That's lower than in the comparison period, but only by 4.8% year-over-year.

Although official figures for the second half of the year will not be available until March, SIAE said early indications are that the weakening trend will continue for cinema ticket sales. If that proves true, it will be the first time since 2004-05 that overall revenue from cinema ticket sales did not rise from one year to the next in Italy.