All is not lost: for Italian movie theaters which, for the second consecutive year, have recorded a net loss in audiences (in the month of November the drop was around 9%), there is a possibility of climbing back.
The news that is definitely putting the smile back on the faces of exhibitors, the protagonists of the 41st edition of the Giornate Professionali di Cinema (Professional Days of Cinema), held in Sorrento from December 3 to 6, is the signing by the Minister of Culture, Alberto Bonisoli, of a decree implementing the Cinema Law that regulates the windows according to which movies have to be distributed first in movie theaters and then on all other platforms.
Basically, what previously was a widely shared practice – the 105 day interval – has now become a rule that, naturally, only applies to movies that take advantage of public contributions and not to foreign movies.
The decree establishes that the 105 day interval between the theater release and the screening on other platforms is reduced to ten if the movie is screened for three (or fewer) weekdays, excluding Friday, Saturday and Sunday and to sixty days if it is shown on at least eighty screens and, after the first twenty-one days of screening, it has obtained less than 50,000 viewers.
The reduction is, however “only permitted if during the screening period no activities have been carried out regarding the launch and promotion of the subsequent availability of the work through suppliers of audiovisual media services”.
To the objections raised about the anti Netflix function of this last step of the decree, the undersecretary Lucia Borgonzoni replied that “the objective is not to fight Netflix or Amazon but to make our film industry work”.
In fact, the regulation of the windows was articulated in order to guarantee “greater flexibility for movies funded with public money that do not do well on big screens and could get better results on other circuits”.
The decree met with the approval of all cinema categories because, as underlined in an official note by the exhibitors ANEC and ANEM, ACEC and FICE, together with the producers and distributors of ANICA, “the rule is directed towards safeguarding the movie theater as the central moment in the exploitation of a theatrical work; moreover the rules proposed aim, through derogations, to maximize the various types of national production, including low budget movies and products that have less market potential, thus expanding the opportunities for their utilization and viewing”.
There is more good news for exhibitors: undersecretary Borgonzoni has announced new help for movie theaters (“last year’s € 30 million will be released very soon to which the 30 of this year’s open calls will be added”) and above all “agreements for multi-screenings in single screen theaters”.
Finally, with regard to the age-old Italian question of the summer season, the Ministry has confirmed its commitment to favoring the release of movies in theaters in the summer months as well.
All the conditions are right for ensuring that exhibitors as well as distributors, who will get together at the Hilton Sorrento Palace for the presentation of the movies to be distributed in movie theaters next year, can look towards 2019 with confidence.