Italian Box Office Offers Mixed Message for Domestic Business

Though Italy’s box office for the first eight months of 2018 is down, Italian movies account for a quarter of grosses, up from 17% a year ago, a clear sign of local production vibrancy amid alarming theatrical erosion.

Outside the country, Italian cinema is steadily gaining more international traction after the four Oscar nominations (and one win) scored earlier this year by Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name,” followed by two Cannes competition prizewinners, Alice Rohrwacher’s “Happy as Lazzaro” and Matteo Garrone’s “Dogman,” and strong presences at the Venice and Toronto festivals.

The drop in Italian moviegoers amounts to a 7% drop so far this year. That follows a dramatic 12% box office plunge in 2017 and is forcing producers and distributors to come up with some innovative strategies.

Case in point is Oscar-winner Paolo Sorrentino’s Silvio Berlusconi-themed “Loro,” which was edited into a longer version divided into two installments, “Loro 1” and “Loro 2,” for the Italian market. Universal released each film within about two weeks of each other pulling a combined roughly $8 million, in line with Sorrentino’s customary take for a single feature film. Universal and Sorrentino’s producer Nicola Giuliano say they are satisfied with their experiment borne in part from Sorrentino’s desire to make a longer, more than three-hour, director’s cut of the pic besides the two-hour and 25 minutes international version that will world premiere in Toronto.


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