Italy’s top film organizations on Tuesday announced a concerted initiative to lure more local moviegoers into theaters during summer months, just as the country’s box office continues to plunge after a disastrous 2018.
The country’s motion picture association ANICA, which comprises reps from the Hollywood majors as well as Italy’s distributors, producers and exhibitors said they are jointly launching a push to release more movies between May and August, when Italians traditionally hit the beach en masse.
The dearth of summer releases in the past has been known to cause a glut of releases the rest of the year and is considered a major local impediment to market growth.
Italian distributors’ chief Luigi Lonigro called the country’s 2019 summer lineup the “biggest ever,” noting that “the big [Hollywood] blockbusters will finally be released day and date with the main European territories, along with titles by major Italian and international directors.”
“Distributors have made bold but necessary choices, aware of the fact that they are running the risk of taking a loss on each of these titles,” Lonigro said, “but with the long-term goal of jointly contributing to market growth.”
In terms of studio fare Italy’s exhibitors, as previously announced, are boasting a much improved summer 2019 lineup with 10 strong Hollywood titles slotted from May to August, including “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” “X-Men Dark Phoenix,” “Men in Black: International,” “Toy Story 4,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” “The New Mutants” and the “The Lion King” which will go out in Italy on Aug. 21.
By contrast in 2018 only 4 Hollywood tentpoles went out in Italy during the summer. Last year “Hotel Transylvania 3” and “Mission Impossible 6” got Italian releases in the second half of August when the country was already in post holiday back-to-school mode, whereas in the U.S. and rest of Europe they went out in July.
What’s clear now is that Italian producers and distributors are joining the U.S. majors in the push, albeit with less of a loss at stake.
This summer Italy’s Lucky Red will release Laurel and Hardy biopic “Stan & Ollie,” which though not a fresh film still reps a big gamble in a summer slot; 01 Distribution will launch multi-hyphenate Sergio Rubini’s comedy “The Great Spirit” and veteran helmer Pupi Avati’s chiller “Il Grande Diavolo”; Eagle Pictures will bow biopic “Nureyev: The White Crow,” directed by Ralph Fiennes. Videa is outing Neil Jordan’s thriller “Greta,” starring Isabelle Huppert which, like “Stan & Ollie,” is not a fresh title but still a prestige pic to which they could have given a more secure playdate.
Italy’s summer releases initiative, somewhat oddly branded “Moviement” for the promotional campaign, comes as box office intake has just suffered a roughly 10% dip in January and February compared with the same period in 2018, a year that saw grosses shrink to €555 million ($631 million), the country’s worst box office result in a decade.
So, while there are hopes for a turnaround, 2019 is not starting out on a bright note and there is some skepticism regarding how much “Moviement” can move the needle.