Italy Revives Tepid Box Office With $3 Tickets, ‘Minions 2’
Italy’s National Cinema Day, a five-day event called Cinema in Festa that offers discounted tickets to certain films at participating theaters throughout the country, has been a huge success. It brought in $3.9 million (EUR4million) in boxoffice revenue. This is a $2.1 million (EUR2.2million) increase in box office revenue compared to the previous week.
Inspired by National Cinema Day in USA and UK, and similar cinema promotion events in France, Spain and France, Italy’s Cinema in Festa was organized jointly by the national audiovisual group ANICA and exhibitors association ANEC, with the support of Italy’s Ministry of Culture and the collaboration of the Italian Cinema Academy. For the five-day period, from September 18-22, tickets at participating cinemas were fixed at $3. 40 (EUR3. 50).
The discount applied to a mix of new releases and re-run titles, with Universal’s animated hit Minions: The Rise of Gru and Gianni Amelio’s local-language drama The Lord of the Ants the most popular films during the event, alongside a re-release of James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) which pulled in $336,000 (EUR347,000) on a single day.
Simone Gialdini, general manager of ANEC, stated that “this was without a doubt a great success.” “The first days went very smoothly considering the time of year and the movies shown.” Gialdini noted how Italy’s cinema admissions outperformed those in France during the promotion, despite France having “almost double the working screens” .
This is not the first Cinema in Festa in Italy. The country ran similar national ticket discount promotions in 2018.
This year’s event is happening at a time when the Italian cinema industry faces a near-existential crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has left the box office in ruins. While the Cinema in festa promotion accounted for hundreds of thousands of additional tickets sold, the overall admissions were still sharply down on pre-pandemic figures, off 57 percent compared to the equivalent week in 2019.
The initiative was not supported by all theater owners. For example, the PostModernissimo cinema Perugia posted its objection via social media explaining why it wouldn’t participate in the Cinema in festa.
“We celebrate cinema everyday,” says PostModernissimo director Giacomo Caldarelli. “Personally, I don’t believe these initiatives are necessary. We offer a discount on Wednesdays by selling tickets for EUR4 and a list of original language titles. This day has always seen a high turnout. In this case, the cultural offer and the economic offer overlap. We don’t believe in discounting for the sake of discounting, so we reject it.”
Caldarelli believes that Italy should allow cinema owners to decide how and when promotions are conducted if it wants to help its struggling cinemas.
He notes that even though there are more customers, earnings will not increase accordingly in this instance. “Will people who are attracted to discounts return? They didn’t last time. We can’t chase our customers with discounts or subscriptions like streaming platforms do
Caldarelli cites France as an example, which offers similar discounts but is supported more widely by the government.
We want to give discounts when and how we want.” We want to offer .”
discounts when and how we like it.
Gialdini, ANEC, says that the main goal of Cinema in festa this year was to bring people back to theaters after the pandemic. He believes the event succeeded in doing so. He also notes that the Italian government is doing more than just offering discount tickets, pointing to an additional EUR10 million in state funding for the Italian film industry. He says, “And we won’t cease there.”
Cinema in festa will be back in 2023. despite all else. Gialdini states that there will be two weeks of cinema promotion next year, one in June, and one in September, the week following the Venice Film Festival.
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