Ticket sales in Italy rise 2.8%

Increased prices for James Cameron's "Avatar" contributed

ROME -- The number of movie tickets sold in Italy in April dipped in Italy compared to the year-ago period, the first month to see a year-on-year reduction in ticket sales, according to the cinema monitoring company Cinetel, but the figures for the first four months of the year still remained strong compared to 2009 levels.

Cinetel reported that 7.4 million movie tickets were sold in April, a 4.5% fall from the sales levels for April 2009. But despite the drop, total ticket sales rose 2.8% to 48.5 million euro ($65.5 million) mostly because of increased ticket prices for the 3D version of James Cameron's fantasy thriller "Avatar."

The best-selling film in April was "La vita e una cosa meravigliosa" (Life is a Wonderful Thing) from Medusa, which just edged U.K.-made "Clash of the Titans" from Warner Bros.

For the first four months of the year, 46.2 million tickets were sold, a 21.8% increase over the same period in 2009. Ticket sales increased 37.1% over the same period.

Italian films and co-productions accounted for 32.8% of the market, trailing only the market share of U.S. films, at 58.3%.

Cinetel said the performance so far this year showed the Italian film market was starting to recover from a down year in 2009.