Italian Film Attendance Down 31% in January

J. Edgar - Movie Still: Leonardo DiCaprio in car - H - 2011
Warner Bros

Domestic comedies dominate ticket sales, but results are weak compared to a year ago.

ROME – On the heels of a slightly down year for cinema attendance in Italy in 2011, 2012 got off to a poor start, with total ticket sales of 13.1 million coming in nearly a third lower than the same month a year ago.

All told, the ticket sales were 31 percent lower than in January 2011, when 18.9 million tickets were sold. This year’s sales were worth €85.6 million ($111.3 million), around 28 percent lower than a year ago.

At last part of the drastic difference between the two Januaries is because of the stunning success of Che Bella Giornata (What a Beautiful Day), which premiered in January en route to becoming the highest grossing domestic film ever in Italy. But the year has seen its own big hit, with Benvenuti al Nord (Welcome to the North), taking in €21.5 million ($27.8 million) on sales of 3.3 million ticket, both a little more than half of Che Bella Giornata’s take a year ago.

January this year also trailed sales in the same month two years ago, when 16.8 million tickets were sold, but was better than the same month in 2009 (12.8 million tickets) and 2008 (12.9 million tickets).

The box office in January was dominated by two Italian comedies: Benvenuti al Nord and Immaturi il viaggio (Immature, The Journey), which sold 11.5 million tickets. Both films are distributed by Medusa, which is owned by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Clint Eastwood-directed J. Edgar, distributed by Warner Bros., was a distant third for the month, with 5.6 million tickets sold.

Behind the top two comedies, Italian films just missed taking a majority of the market in January, with a 49 percent market share. Italy’s share of the total both office was 37.5 percent over all of last year, and 31.8 percent over all of 2010.

January is usually a strong cinema month in Italy, in contrast with December, which is traditionally the weakest non-summer month of the year.