The theatrical crisis and the space remaining in the market for independent film formed the focus of Turin’s Production Days
- Those active within the industry gave their opinions on the gloomy overview of the sector offered by Ergo Research expert Michele Casula
On 24 November, Production Days, organised by the Turin Piedmont Film Commission and Torino Film Industry on behalf of the Torino Film Festival, hosted a debate entitled “Assessing data in order to grow: The genres and market space available to independent film.” Moderated by Daniele Segre, the event involved Marco Valerio Fusco of Intramovies; Ines Vasiljevic of Nightswim; Simone Catania of Indyca; Ergo Research expert Michele Casula; and Marco Luca Cattaneo of Rain Dogs.
Casula kicked off the debate, explaining that the sector “doesn’t particularly like numbers: at times it suffers them, at others it abuses them, and often it believes it can do without them.” He then revealed a series of statistics about the Italian public. According to the data to hand, 92% of Italians over 14 years of age watch at least one film per year, with an average number of 113 films watched per year. 2% of films watched were seen at the theatres before the pandemic, though this figure is now down to 1%.
Casula also stated that the VoD Premium “has only satisfied the demand for new products very marginally” and that “use of VOD services doubled between 2020 and 2021, while in 2022 they account for 13% of total viewings [20% if we include the extra 7% brought by Sky].”
In terms of other consumption trends, Casula added: “Free films on Broadcaster-VoD services such as RAIPlay (6%) are enjoyed to a similar extent as those on pay TV, while piracy accounts for 12% of sharing, which mostly revolves around titles which are screening in cinemas at the time of viewing.”
In terms of series, 78% of Italians over 14 years of age watch at least one series per year, with an average number of 5 complete seasons seen over the year.
Lingering on the subject of genres, Casula cited the 2019 “Cinema and Lounge” research, which revealed that cinemagoers watched no more than 2 genres at the cinema, whereas the figure now stands at 3.6.
In terms of generations, meanwhile, Casula maintained that “the children’s segment (15-24-year-olds) is larger and oriented more towards international stories, […] while the parental segment (55-64-year-olds) isn’t so interested in stories or experiences.”
In operational terms, Casula showed how 26.9 million cinemagoers over 14 years of age in 2019 dropped to 19.5 in the period between May 2021 and September 2022. Admissions fell, in the same periods outlined above, from 3.9 to 3.0. However, the incidence of younger cinemagoers (15-34) rose from 29% to 37%, while the over 54s fell from 29% to 26%.
Further data presented by Casula shows how 2022 admissions are fluctuating, and that only one drop at the beginning of the year correlates with a rising curve of active Covid cases. Successive spikes, meanwhile, are mainly linked to the capacity of certain products to “flush out” demand. 2022 kicked off under the banner of caution for audiences over 50, a segment which only saw a clear recovery towards the end of October. In this sense, the 15-24, 25-34 and 35-49 age groups are alternately winning weekly admissions records. Most recent titles proving to be the biggest draw at the box office include Minions 2 (1,964,800 admissions), Black Adam (681,661) and Strangeness [+see also:
film profile] (662,556). Generally speaking, the 25-34 segment seem to be shying away from Italian films, which are conversely very well-received by the 50-59 and over 60 groups.
Amongst the various producer reactions to the presentation, Vasiljevic reiterated the madness of the model of buying as many IPs as possible and where the focus is more on packaging than on developing ideas, explaining how his company works in the entirely opposite way.
Azzollini emphasised how the pandemic and the proliferation of platforms has allowed a change among audiences. He explained that “it’s not always the product that’s the problem,” adding that various issues stem from the fact that distributors, broadcasters and viewing venues “haven’t yet managed to adapt themselves to the changes imposed by this period.”
Catania reaffirmed how “today, being independent means freeing ourselves from platforms,” even if it comes at an enormous risk to producers.
Fusco cited other critical issues, such as the lack of minimum guarantees (which are considered “a chimera” when not for comedies or big productions), and media chronology windows.
Cattaneo explained, in no uncertain terms, how tax credit has more or less replaced producers’ fees and he emphasised how “most of the films we make in Italy aren’t of interest to anyone, not even at festivals.” “The [film] law needs to be changed and placed back at the heart of what public support should be about: cultural exception and diversity. [..] We need to shake up the funding system, placing not just the author but the works themselves at the very heart of it.” Last but not least, he emphasised the need to help cinemas to programme films autonomously, in order to overcome institutional bottlenecks.
(Translated from Italian)
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