As Italy’s government falters, the struggling country’s film and TV industry is staying afloat with bolstered funding that, in 2021, will provide a €640 million ($775 million) safety net for local exhibitors, distributors and producers.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte survived a crucial Senate vote of confidence on Tuesday night by a razor-thin margin of just 16 votes (the vote was 156-140 in his favour), averting a crisis sparked by differences over the way to spend more than €$200 billion ($242 billion) earmarked by the European Union for a COVID-19 recovery fund to help revive its pandemic-stricken economy.
The President of Italy Motion Picture Association (ANICA) Francesco Rutelli said on Wednesday Variety that the government now remains on track with its revival plan for film and audiovisual production, written by Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, which Rutelli called “a major achievement”. Funding for the industry is up 60% over last year and is spread across its various sectors.
Key aspects of Italy’s safety net for the film and TV production sector include a refinancing of the 40% production tax cut that kept sets open by offsetting additional coronavirus-related costs and risks; €170 million ($206 million) to subsidize closed cinemas, which also benefit from substantial tax breaks; and 25 million euros ($30 million) to help offset losses suffered by film distributors.
Increased funding for Italian industry will also provide a new €$35 million ($42 million) in cash injection to state film entity Istituto Luce Cinecittà, with some of the money earmarked for the reorganization of Rome’s Cinecittà studios.
Meanwhile, Italy is managing to contain its coronavirus contagion curve while its the roll-out of the vaccination campaign continues at full speed with more than 1.1 million Italians having received the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the highest number in the EU.
However, the chances of cinemas reopening soon are very slim.
“There was some hope that cinemas would open in March, in time for Easter (in April), but I think that assumption is unrealistic,” says Italian box office expert Robert Bernocchi, who adds that the fact that Universal is likely to leave the April 2 date set for the James Bond title “No Time to Die” does not help the prospects of reopening cinemas anytime before May.
The Italian box office fell 71% in 2020 due to the pandemic, although some titles performed decently. “Tenet”, for example, pulled 6.6 million euros ($7.9 million) after its release in late August, and “After We Collided” earned a solid 4.1 million euros ($4.9 million) after its release in September.
On the production side, Italian sets continue to remain open, the latest being the filming in Rome of ‘The First Day of My Life’, the new film from smash hit ‘Perfect Strangers’ director Paolo Genovese. poster Toni Servillo (“The Great Beauty”) and co-produced by Medusa Films and Lotus Productions. Cameras for “First Day” began rolling on Saturday. The title is a concept film in which three characters who have reached rock bottom get the chance to see for a week what the world would be like without them, as a ploy to encourage them to cheer themselves up and keep going.