WORLD MOVIE THEATERS/Italian Sounding

Cannes: time for the latest news and for stock-taking. For example, regarding the presence of Italian films in European cinemas.

The study MEDIA Salles has carried out again this year on the most widely viewed Italian titles now regards 30 markets: a picture that ranges from Iceland to Georgia, the United Kingdom to Russia, including large and small markets, like Germany or Cyprus.
And this year, too, there are territories that cannot come up with the ten titles requested.
Amongst them appears again Denmark, which nonetheless lists four this time: in first place, curiously enough, is “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso”, an evergreen, brought back to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary also in Finland, Norway, Sweden and, outside Scandinavia, in Portugal and Greece.

Other markets give such a detailed account of the circulation of Italian films, as to count at least 30 titles, as in Switzerland, or even sixty odd, as in Portugal and Russia.
In these cases coproductions are included, too, as well as rereleases of classics, like “La dolce vita” or “C’era una volta il West”/“Once upon a time in the West”, confirming the lasting enthusiasm for the great masters of Italian cinema.

In 2018, amongst the films that had crossed most borders – and this comes as no surprise – was “Call me by your name”, with its strong, all-round, international dimensions, including the organization of distribution. Guadagnino’s film comes in first place in Spain (170,000 admissions), Sweden (45,000), Belgium (38,000), Finland (36,000) and Norway (25,000), in second place in France (323,000), Switzerland (37,000), Portugal (27,000), Hungary (18,000), the Czech Republic (7,500) and Iceland (1,200), in third place in Germany (196,000), Greece (21,000), Turkey (20,000) and Austria (19,000).
This comes as the aftermath of the success the coproduction had obtained in the UK, where it came out in 2017, even before its release in the US. Curiously, “Call me by your name” proved to be the leading Italian film in Ireland in 2018 – where it had already been distributed in October 2017 – thanks to a “trail” of 5,000 admissions.
Between 2017 and 2018 the film achieved over 90,000 admissions in the Netherlands, too.
On the international scenario, Guadagnino has also established a presence with “Suspiria”, another coproduction, this time by Italy and the US.
The title reached first place in Georgia and Ukraine, second in Denmark, third in Finland and Iceland, fourth in the UK, fifth in Russia, Belgium, Portugal and Turkey, ninth in Austria. In the Italian top ten in Finland, Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” also appears, re-run for the release of the film it pays homage to. The 1977 “Suspiria”, in seventh position, is joined in Finland by “Profondo Rosso”/”Deep Red”, which makes fifth place.

Another title that has reached several markets thanks to its international stamp, is “The Leisure Seeker”, Virzì’s first film in English.
It reached first place amongst the Italian films viewed in the Netherlands, selling 70,000 tickets, and Switzerland (38,000), second place in Germany (262,000), Austria (31,000), Sweden (24,000) and Finland (10,000), third in Belgium (16,000) and in the UK (half a million pounds box-office, including Ireland), sixth in Turkey (6,000 tickets), eleventh in Greece (7,000).

Italian, though inspired by a US TV series, is “The place”: it heads the charts in Hungary (24,000 spectators) and Bulgaria (1,300) and comes in second place in Russia (95,000), Ukraine (12,000), Romania (4,500) and Serbia (4,000).
It is well placed in Denmark, Finland and the Czech Republic (fourth place), Norway (seventh) and Portugal (eighth). “Napoli velata”/“Naples in veils” by Ferzan Ozpetek comes top of the charts (53,000 admissions) in Turkey, the director’s home country. It gains second place in Bulgaria (1,200) and the eighth in Austria (6,000).

These figures seem to confirm that the international dimension – whether in terms of co-production, distribution managed by a worldwide giant or themes or languages that address the global spectator – are a necessary condition, though not sufficient on their own, for gaining a foothold outside national borders.

What leads a foreign spectator to perceive a film as Italian?
This food for reflection arose from one of the titles that recurs most frequently in the top lists analysed by MEDIA Salles.

According to the most frequently used classifications, “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” by Sollima is not an Italian film: yet in Russia (75,000 spectators), Turkey (19,000), Croatia (18,000), Sweden (13,000), Norway (11,000) and Greece (9,000), it is listed amongst the top ten Italian films.
In the UK (2 million pounds in box-office, including Ireland), Romania (47,000 spectators), Portugal (30,000) and Iceland (6,000) it came in first place.

Is there an “Italian sounding” in the cinema, too?
It would seem so, judging also by “Leo da Vinci: Mission Monna Lisa”, an animated film for young people, narrating an event not closely linked to the true story of the great master, but whose title evokes the image of Italy so well known to older and younger people alike all over the world.
Coproduced with Poland, it was distributed in several countries, coming in top place in Cyprus, Serbia, Croatia and the Slovak Republic.
On each of the latter two markets – certainly not large ones – it sold 27,000 tickets.
To make a comparison, “Suspiria” in Germany counted 20,000 spectators.

(data collection Silvia Mancini)

Nella sezione: Focus on italy