Admissionsin Italy are up 8.5% to 98 million according to new figures from research bodyCinetel.

The admissions relate to the period Dec 1 2003 and Nov 302004 and led to an Italian box office take of Euros 577m.

Cinetel data only measures admissions and takings from 75% ofItalian screens, but is the most accurate available out of Italy.

US films, including Finding Nemo, scored a 60.15% marketshare in the same period, while Italian films, led by Medusa comedy IlParadiso all' Improvviso, registered a 21.5% share - down slightly from22.9% in 2003. UK films followed with a 7.92% slice of the market, thanks to HarryPotter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban and Troy being classified asBritish.

Local distributors continue to complain about a lack of governmentsupport and the dominance of US product.

"The biggest obstacle for distributors of Italian films isthat they are forced to fight against American films whose success is already aforegone conclusion, while Italians remain craftsmen of luxury goods in the filmindustry," says Paolo Pozzi, head of distribution at Medusa, Italy's topdistributor.

"2004 has been a difficult year because of the freeze onstate support for distribution," says Thule Film's Silvana Leonardi,explaining that small companies have been particularly hit hard.

Despite their difficulties, however, Italian distributors havecontinued to be active on the international market-place. Medusa's slate for2005 includes Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, which is set for releaseon May 13, Hark Tsui's Seven Swords, which will be released in August,Chris Nahon's L'empire Des Loups, and Woody Allen's Match Point.

01 Distribution's slate includes Danny the Dog with MorganFreeman and Jet Li, Nick Cassavetes's The Notebook, Danis Tanovic's Inferno,Paul McGuigan's Wicker Park and Roberto Benigni's The Tiger and TheSnow.

Filmauro's newly unveiled slate includes Paul Haggis's Crash,and at least two Italian films: Davide Ferrario's L'Oscura Immensita' dellaMorte and Giovanni Veronesi's Manuale D'Amore.

Eagle Pictures's slate features Omar Naim's The Final Cut,Sam Raimi's Boogie Man, One Last Dance with Patrick Swayze andKeith Gordon's The Singing Detective.