Abroad, the cinema is still seen as one of Italy’s areas of excellence, though often associated more with the great masters of the past such as Fellini and Antonioni.
With regard to the most recent Italian films abroad, MEDIA Salles has just published a research on the international market trajectory of those that were 100% produced in Italy, or coproduced with a majority share, and ranked in the top 30 places according to number of tickets sold domestically in 2014 (source: Cinetel).
The first point to emerge is that, of these 30 titles worth over 20 million spectators on the domestic market (20,640,092), 21 appear not to have reached the big screen in other countries. Instead, 9 have been distributed, or are scheduled to be, in the movie theatres of at least one other country.
Of these 9 “ambassadors” of Italian cinema, “Il Capitale Umano” by Paolo Virzì stands out head and shoulders above the rest: it has already been distributed on 32 markets and it is announced on another 4, proving to be a film that is capable of talking to audiences with very different languages and cultures.
It is a co-production (with France), which set its sights on the international dimension right from the planning phase (no coincidence that it also gained support from Eurimages) and used the Berlin Festival’s European Film Mar- ket as the trampoline for its launch.
The film was also selected by numerous festivals, travelling from continent to continent, from North America such as Tribeca Film Festival, to Australia (Sydney Film Festival) and on to Asia (Hong Kong Film Festival). It won a total of 42 awards and numerous nominations, including 8 awards to Paolo Virzì as Best Direc- tor, 7 for Best Film and 6 for Best Screenplay. The foreign box-office figures available to date show that “Il Capitale Umano” has earned over 1.6 million Euros, equal to around 30% of the Italian figures.
Its access to international theatres was facilitated thanks to those distributors who pay particularly close attention to the most up-to-date Italian productions, such as, in Scandinavia, Scanbox Entertainment, which also distributed “Grace of Monaco”, “Youth” and “Padri e Figlie”; Fivia, in Slovenia, which acquired titles such as “Mia Madre”, “Youth”, “Anime Nere”, “Il Ragazzo Invisibile” and “Le Meraviglie”, and lastly Cinema Prestige (Russia), which also distributed “Il Racconto dei Racconti”, “Meraviglioso Boccaccio”,” Sangue del mio sangue” and “Allacciate le cincture”.
This all confirms how important it is for Italian cinema to build “support bases” that make a sort of “team game” possible. It is in fact essential to create a flow of Italian productions that is as regular and continuous as possible and maintains the interest of their specific public.
Amongst the weaknesses, analysis of the release dates confirms that the practice of simultaneous release on international markets is still almost unknown to Italian films, which are obliged to win over one market at a time, with a trajectory that may even extend over more than two years.
From looking at other Italian films which reached movie theatres abroad, other factors emerge with a bearing on their international circulation.
In the case of “Allacciate le cincture”, distributed in 6 countries, its success in Turkey (around one million euro in box-office, over 20% of its Italian equivalent) is certainly linked to the director, Ozpetek’s, fame in his country of origin, whilst for the animated film “Winx Club: Il Mistero degli Abissi” its distribution in 15 foreign countries is linked to the famous animation series broadcast on TV in dozens and dozens of countries and to its serial format: the film is in fact the third in a trilogy that began in 2007.