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fondazione ente dello spettacolo
tertio millennio film fest
» Report 2008
Chapter 2 - The enlargement of the sector
You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big”
“I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.

William Holden and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard by Billy Wilder

The uncertain classification of the cinema as a work of genius, as a cultural entity, as a form of art, of the performing arts, or as an industrial product represents an objective problem when it comes to analyzing trends or the overall economic status of the sector. This is because it renders the characterisation for comparison of all the activities which, for jurisdiction are taken into consideration, as well as those sectors which are homogenous by nature and structure, particularly difficult. It is necessary, however, to add that this difficulty is not insurmountable. Anyone wishing to analyze the economic values of the national cinema industry finds themselves working with a rich and timely availability of data on the takings of the various screen titles but, at the same time, with a chronic lack of certain and unequivocal data and information regarding almost all of the rest of the sector. One type of “deafening silence”, that provoked by the excess of box office sales, often prejudices the full understanding of how the market functions and, indeed, creates the following paradox: the cinema industry, a media that essentially produces and transmits meaningful content, finds itself with a considerable scarcity of information.
This is not a minor complication. The same “Relazione sull’utilizzazione del Fondo unico per lo spettacolo – Anno 2007” (“Report on the use of the Unique fund for performing arts”) edited by the ‘Osservatorio dello Spettacolo’ and published by Mibac (Ministery of Cultural Activities and Heritage) highlights the fact that “the statistics of the sector refer to a series of institutions which reveal, and only in certain cases, publish the results of the collected data” and that “in the national statistics program (PSN), with which the statistical production of public interests are stabilized, at the moment the carrying out of projects regarding the specific environment of the performing arts is not foreseen”.1
The fact is that the true cinema market is neither limited nor strictly sectorial. Whilst the original cinema industry saw a reduction from its origins (metaphorically recalled by Gloria Swanson in the quotation at the top of the page), in turn, the cinema has in fact broadened its diffusion channels even lengthening its life cycle; consumer platforms have multiplied; the same product is no longer a unique product, but rather moulded into diverse forms and enriched by new components and “by-products” or “spin offs”; investment entity requests continuously involve more protagonists and, after the public financing by the state and the European Community new private financing operators have arrived on the market.
The availability of information only concerning box office statements does not justify, therefore, the consideration according to which – it being the public who determines the production and sales of film – any analysis of the market demand is more than valid and adequate for evaluating that of the market supply. It would rather be like claiming that any control of the purity and quality of sea water or the water of a swimming pool, is useless because people still use it to bathe.

1 As is revealed in the chapter “Ricognizione delle fonti di produzione di dati statistici sulla cultura e lo spettacolo in Italia” (‘Observations on the Sources of Production for Statistical Data regarding Culture and Performing Arts in Italy’) (pages 47-52 of the report) by Anna Rosa Maselli, consultant for the “Osservatore dello spettacolo” (MIBAC) the administration, the entities and public organizations are obliged to furnish data and information that are requested of them only for the surveys provided for by PSN and the same conditions are valid for private citizens.


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