Where do Italian films go when they cross the borders of the Peninsula?
To provide an answer to this question, MEDIA Salles has examined the international circulation of Italian productions and co-productions (majority and minority) released in the country’s cinemas in 2014 and 2015 and appearing on big screens abroad by 30 June 2016*.
Using a wide variety of sources, since there is no obligation, even for films with public financing behind them, to announce their international releases, the research shows that of the 370 titles analyzed 17% were distributed in at least one country abroad: 4.8% reached one country only, whilst the remaining 12.2% were distributed in more than one.
Where are these markets?
Europe is the leading market for the export of Italian films.
Each of the titles that was distributed internationally by the end of June 2016 was viewed in an average of 7.3 countries (table-1), with no significant statistical difference between films released in 2014 or in 2015. The vast majority of films “for export” (as many as 82.5%) were distributed in Europe, where they reached an average of 6.4 countries.
A smaller number of films travelled to other continents: 34.9% of the titles that crossed national borders were distributed in Asia and in the areas on the Pacific Rim (where each title visited 2.6 countries); 23.8% were distributed in North America and the same percentage in South America (an average of 2.2 countries), whilst a lower percentage of films were seen in Africa and the Middle East (11.1%) reaching an average of 2.7 countries. (The same title might obviously have travelled to more than one continent).
Nonetheless, these figures do not paint a complete picture of the international career of Italian films screened at home in 2014 and 2015, since many of them have already found a distributor, even though a release date has yet to be announced. And this applies to quite a few cases.
The percentage of films waiting to appear on the big screen amounts to 41% of those that have found a distributor in Europe, 39.3% in Asia and the Pacific Rim; 9.8% in North and South American countries and 4.9% in Africa and the Middle East Including coming releases, the number of countries Italian films have reached could rise to a total of 10, 6.9 of which in Europe.
These figures obviously imply a reflection on the timing aspect: how many months, or even years, does it take Italian films to gain international affirmation in a context that increasingly revolves around the “day-and-date” concept, tending to make the theatrical release date coincide worldwide, as well as reducing or even cancelling the windows between modes and channels of viewing.
But this is something we shall be dealing with on a future occasion.
In Europe by far the leading market for Italian films is France, where 28 films were distributed (table-2), including not only co-productions, but also 10 films produced 100% by Italy. Next come Portugal and Switzerland (13 films), United Kingdom (12), Greece (11) and Austria, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Spain (10).
100% Italian productions have been distributed not only in France but also in Austria (3 films), in Switzerland (2) and, with only one title theatrically released, in Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland and the Czech Republic.
In North America, the United States and Canada respectively 10 and 7 Italian productions have been screened in theatres. In South America, the country where the largest number of Italian movies have been distributed is Brazil with 10 titles reaching the big screen; in Asia and the Pacific Rim, South Korea and Taiwan have provided the biggest outlets for Italian films, whilst in Africa and the Middle East only one country, Israel, has seen at least five films distributed.
*this article takes up the topic of one of the most recent research studies carried out by MEDIA Salles, with the consultancy of Professor Bensi, starting out from the database of Italian films distributed internationally since 2008.