Half-Priced Youth Tickets Latest Initiative to Revive Italy Cinema Sector

The signs of life the troubled sector showed in February appear to have been carried over into March.

ROME – In the latest attempt to attract more moviegoers, cinema exhibitors in Lazio, the region that includes Rome, have cut ticket prices in half on slow movie days for ticket buyers under the age of 30.

The initiative, which is valid Mondays and Tuesdays, comes as the battered Italian cinema sector is starting to show signs of life: monitoring company Cinetel reported this month that Italian cinemas sold 7.7 million tickers in February worth a total of €47 million ($61.1 million). That’s a 4.6 percent increase in ticket sales, though a small decrease monetarily due to the higher number of 3D films in cinemas a year ago.

It is the second consecutive month ticket sales were higher than in the year-ago period, putting the sector on pace to reverse a two-year trend in which overall ticket sales dropped compared with the previous year. Early indications are that the recovery is carrying over into March, though full-month figures will not be released until the end of next week.

The discount ticket promotion, set to run through May 28, is part of a wider trend of exhibitors taking steps to prop up the beleaguered sector. Last year, exhibitors began premiering  films on Thursdays rather than Fridays, for example. Individual cinema chains also have launched promotions.

Italian cinema attendance dropped compared with the previous year in both 2012 and 2011 -- a trend that extended last year even to the country’s biggest film festivals. The 30-year-old Turin Film Festival was the only exception.