Italian local boxoffice market share shrinks

Reverses a six-year trend, but overall market steady

ROME -- The percentage of the Italian film market controlled by local productions is on pace to contract in 2009, reversing a six-year trend that has seen home-grown films' share of the total boxoffice steadily grow. But the boxoffice as a whole held steady compared to last year.

According to information released by cinema monitoring company Cinetel on Wednesday, Italian films accounted for 28.2% of the total boxoffice over the first four months of the year, sharply lower than 34.2% of the market over the January-to-April period in 2008. The first part of the year is traditionally a strong one for Italian films, which captured 27.7% of the Italian boxoffice for 2008 as a whole.

There were just three Italian films in the top 10 so far this year, compared to five of the top 10 after the first four months of last year. The year's top grossing film --- Giovanni Veronesi's comedy "Italians" -- is a local film, however.

Much of the erosion of the Italian market share has come from a growth in popularity of U.S. films, which saw their share rise to 59.9% compared to 54.2% last year. If that trend continues, it will be the seventh consecutive year that the market share of U.S. films grew -- though in recent yeas the growth had come mostly at the expense of non-Italian European fare.