Domenico Dinoia • President, FICE – Italian Federation of Arts Cinema
"The content is there, but the distribution system isn’t growing the market"
by Camillo De Marco
- FICE president Domenico Dinoia talks about the excellent results obtained by auteur films at the beginning of the year, and compares Italy to other European countries
A month after the less than positive film market data for 2017, the president of FICE - Italian Federation of Arts Cinema, Domenico Dinoia, talks about "the small rebirthof Italian cinema and, more generally, of auteur cinema." What happened? "Nothing in particular, although the public's fondness for quality cinema has always helped. Provided you’re not lacking content."
Spurred on by films with international scope (Call Me By Your Name [+see also:
Q&A: Luca Guadagnino
film profile] by Luca Guadagnino and The Leisure Seeker [+see also:
Q&A: Paolo Virzì
film profile] by Paolo Virzi), and waiting for the release of important titles such as those by Laura Bispuri in competition at Berlin with Daughter of Mine [+see also:
interview: Laura Bispuri
film profile], Gabriele Muccino and Marco Tullio Giordana, for Dinoia, cinematic content at the beginning of the year "demonstrates how the public is always able to tap into good cinema. But high quality European and non-European arthouse films have also obtained excellent results, such as The Square [+see also:
interview: Ruben Östlund
film profile], Darkest Hour [+see also:
film profile], Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, [+see also:
film profile] The Post and, of course, The Shape of Water."
Cineuropa: Data for 2017 was a bit of a blow.
Domenico Dinoia: We went from 105 million viewers in 2016 to 92 million in 2017, that's a 13% drop. Which is big, especially when you compare it to other European countries, because we're the only ones who have seen such a drop in figures. Spain didn’t fare as badly as Italy, France managed to re-establish its 200+ million viewers, England is still growing and so is Germany. So it's hardly true that no one goes to the cinema anymore because of the likes of Netflix and Amazon, etc. Not to mention China, where they’re opening cinemas every day!
But in many European countries people go to see North American films and the national market share is low.
In 2017 the Italian cinema share fell, while the European share remained stable. We lost 13% of our audience, mainly because there were no particularly strong Italian comedies as there have been in previous years, but that's not enough to explain the decline. The reason is perhaps structural. The distribution system isn’t growing the market because it’s squeezing films into just a few months of the year. All films, including quality films and Italian productions. Come April, everything grinds to a halt. It’s no surprise that a market that only focuses on six or seven months of the year is hardly going to achieve satisfactory box office results. Comparisons with other European countries should be done in May, June, July, August, because those are the four months of the year that set countries apart. In Italy, cinema dies at that time of year, not only because people aren't going to the cinema, but because the films are simply not there to watch. Spain made 170 million euros in the three summer months of 2017, whereas Italy only made 60 million. Concentrating all films around Christmas time doesn’t allow you to get the most out of a film and also puts pressure on operators. In Italy, most cinemas only have one, two, three or five screens at the very most. With the current distribution system in place, the amount of content is far superior to the capacity of cinemas, which forces people to choose one film over another.
Can the new Italian cinema law remedy these distortions and reverse the trend?
The new legislation intervenes on many aspects, such as creating incentives for summer releases by giving higher tax credits to distributors and exhibitors. But a law can’t intervene and force distributors to bring blockbusters to cinemas during the summer months, as they do in other countries. National cinema can’t really carry on waiting for the one film that will make a difference each year. Out of the 536 films that were released in 2017, only 218 were Italian, and how many found space in cinemas?
And what about audiovisual education?
There’s a section of the law dedicated to this. It’s about understanding if there will be funding to run real projects in schools. In France, state intervention takes the form of a direct link with cinemas. Students watch films in cinemas, as an element of sociability and cultural research. This is what the future of the public depends on, in a country where audiovisual piracy is very high.
(Translated from Italian)
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