The Italian box office has reported a sluggish start to the year with box office receipts down by 3.2% over the first quarter. Ticket sales have also fallen by 5.3% to 30.2m tickets compared to 31.9m for the same period last year.

Hollywood films currently account for a 58.1% of the market, which has increased by 6.3% over the first quarter, while local films have lost share falling by 5.8% year-on-year from 36.7% to 31%.

The lack of interest in local films is being blamed on a dearth of teen-specific fare and stronger mid-range films. This year has yet to produce a blockbuster in the $20m to $26m (Euros 15m to 20m).

This year’s Filmauro release Italians by director Giovanni Veronesi has grossed $16.6m (Euros 12.1m) and Fausto Brizzi’s Ex has also fared well with $14.3m (Euros 10.6m) to date. Cattleya’s Diverso Da Chi starring Luca Argentero and Claudia Gerini has taken a respectable $3.7m (Euros 2.8m) and Medusa’s La Matassa that has grossed $9.5m (Euros 7.1m) after topping the box office for two weeks.

The period compares with a strong first quarter in 2007, when a mix of local blockbusters and strong auteur product drove local films to an unprecedented first quarter high of 40.8%. It fell back by 4.2% in the first three months of 2008 despite the Moccia-directed hit Scusa Ma Ti Chiamo Amore ($17m/Euros 12.6m) and Filmauro’s Grande Grosso e Verdone, which hauled in $17.4m (Euros 12.9m), opening over the period.