Anica, the Italian producers association, has proposed a ticket price increase to fund local movies. Speaking at a conference on the economics of Italian cinema, Anica president Riccardo Tozzi said that ticket prices have remained fixed for years. A levy managed by trade associations could help regenerate urban cinemas and help producers. “The typical distribution channels, free and pay-TV, are a dead-end market,” he said.
Tozzi, who runs Italian production company Cattleya – which Universal bought a small stake in last year – said that the annus horribilis for Italian cinema many predicted this year did not come to pass. Instead, “the onslaught of 3D brought on an increase in the domestic market share to over 30% of total overall box office”.
Cattleya predicts that Italian admissions will rise by 20% this year to hit 120 million. Box office will also rise by 30% this year to reach €800 million ($981 million). Local films will account for €220 million of this, or 36 million tickets sold.
Stefano Massenzi, head of acquisitions and business affairs at distributor Lucky Red, tells me what producers are proposing is just a revival of an old tax on cinema tickets. Exhibitors will resist choking off the revival in Italian cinema-going and he doubts there is much appetite for it politically. Italy’s politicians, like politicians all over Europe, have their heads full of trying to stave off the sovereign debt crisis.
Meanwhile, Italian tax authority Entrate is digging in its heels about renewing the local production tax credit. All parties have until June 30 to make their cases before this year’s budget is passed. Only then will the fate of the tax credit be known.
What is clear is that Italy is tightening up subsidy. From 2011 only first- and second-time directors will qualify for state funding. And total box office producers can claim for when calculating automatic subsidy – based on previous success – will be capped at €5-7 million.