Italy Revives Tepid Box Office With $3 Tickets, ‘Minions 2’

Italy’s five-day “Cinema in festa” festival was created to boost theatre attendance, which has yet to bounce back from the COVID-era decline.


More than 1.1 million people attended Italy’s version of National Cinema Day, a five-day event called Cinema in festa, which offered discounted tickets for selected movies at participating theatres across the nation. The event was a huge success, generating about $3.9 million (€4 million) in box office revenue. That reflects an increase in box office of $2.1 million (€2.2 million) from the previous week.

Italy’s Cinema in Festa was organised by the national audiovisual group ANICA in conjunction with exhibitors association ANEC with the assistance of the Italian Ministry of Culture and with the collaboration of the Italian Cinema Academy. It was inspired by National Cinema Day in the US and the UK as well as similar cinema promotion events in France and Spain. Tickets at participating theatres were fixed at $3.40 (€3.50) for the five-day period from September 18 to 22.

In addition to a re-release of James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), which made $336,000 (€347,000) in one day, Universal’s animated smash Minions: The Rise of Gru and Gianni Amelio’s local-language drama The Lord of the Ants were the most well-liked movies of the event.

General Manager Simone Gialdini of ANEC affirms, “This was without a doubt, a success.” “Considering the time of year and the movies exhibited, the first days went pretty well.” Gialdini highlighted that despite France having “almost twice as many operating screens as Italy,” Italy’s movie admissions during the campaign outperformed those in France.

t’s not the first Cinema in Festa in Italy. In 2018, the nation ran comparable national ticket discounts.

The Italian film industry, however, is currently experiencing a crisis that is almost existential. The coronavirus pandemic has harmed the box office, which has not yet recovered. Despite the hundreds of thousands of extra tickets sold due to the Cinema in Festa campaign, overall admissions were still significantly lower than pre-pandemic levels, falling by 57% from the same week in 2019.

Not all theatre owners supported the plan. For instance, the PostModernissimo cinema in Perugia announced its disapproval on social media and provided an explanation of why they wouldn’t be participating in the Cinema in festa.

Director Giacomo Caldarelli of PostModernissimo states, “We celebrate movies every day.” “In my opinion, there is no necessity for these activities. We currently sell tickets for €4 on Wednesdays with a programme of films in original language. That day has historically seen a large turnout. Then, the economic offer and the cultural offer are combined. We couldn’t understand a discount just for the sake of a discount, therefore we turned it down.

According to Caldarelli, if Italy really wants to assist its ailing movie theatre owners, they should allow exhibitors decide how and when promotions are carried out.

Even with more customers coming in, he observes, “in this circumstance, earnings are not going to increase correspondingly.” “Will customers drawn in by discounts return? In the past, people didn’t… Like streaming companies, we can’t merely go after customers with discounts and subscriptions.

Caldarelli cites France as an example, where similar discount offers are offered but where government backing is more widespread.

“We, as theatre owners, received government assistance during the Covid disaster, but now we’re attempting to give something back to our community by arranging events and gatherings, sometimes for free… Without any editorial justification, reducing everything to discounts is not something we support. We wish to offer discounts whenever and however we please.

The major objective of this year’s Cinema in Festa, according to Gialdini from ANEC, was to entice viewers back into cinemas after the epidemic, which, in his opinion, was accomplished. He also mentions that the Italian government is doing more for the film business than merely providing discounted tickets, citing an additional €10 million in state assistance. He adds, “[And] we won’t stop there.”

Regardless of anything else happens, Cinema in Festa will be back in 2023. Next year, according to Gialdini, there will be two movie promotion weeks—one in June and one in September, the week following the Venice Film Festival.

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