Italian Cinema Attendance Still Struggling

March was still the strongest month of the year so far.


ROME – Cinema attendance in Italy slowed again in March, according to information released Thursday by cinema monitoring company Cinetel, the sixth consecutive month of year-on-year declines, though attendance did strengthen over the course of the month, sparked by strong box office performances from Italian comedy Posti in Piedi in Paradiso (Standing Room in Heaven) and from the Italian premiere of French comedic drama The Untouchables.

The Untouchables, directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, was nominated for nine prizes at France’s Cesar awards this year but took home just one, the Best Actor prize for protagonist Omar Sy. Called Quasi Amici in Italy, the film tells the story of a quadriplegic (Francois Cluzet) who hires someone from the projects (Sy) to take care of him. The film, distributed in Italy by Medusa, took in €8.3 million ($10.8 million) in March in Italy.

Barely nosing out The Untouchables to take the top spot was Filmauro’s Posti in Piedi in Paradiso, the latest comedy from Carlo Verdone, who directed and starred in the film about three divorced fathers forced to live together. The film took in €8.9 million ($11.6 million) in March.

Daniel Espinosa-directed Hollywood thriller Safe House, distributed by Universal, was a distant third, with receipts for March worth €2.8 million ($3.6 million), the highest grossing non-European film in March.

Overall, cinema operators that report to Cinetel sold 7.9 million tickets in March, down 5.1 percent compared to March 2011, and total sales were €50.3 million ($65 million), down 1.5 percent compared to the year ago period, as the sector continued to be hurt by Italy’s economic malaise.

Still, March was the strongest month of the year so far. Over the first quarter, ticket sales were 28.3 million, 21.9 percent lower than over the first three months of 2011. First quarter receipts were €184.1 million ($239.3 million), 20.2 percent lower than in the year-ago period.

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