The Italian industry is jubilant over 2007 box office results, with Italy's exhibitor organisation ANEC calling it 'one of the best in the past 20 years.'

The exception is 1998 - when Titanic reigned at the box office and 118m tickets sold. According to estimates, 2007 will see 115m tickets sold.

From data provided by Cinetel, the Italian box office compiler, 103.6m tickets were sold in 2007 (Cinetel only covers 90% of the market). From these figures, Cinetel can project 115m tickets sold in 2007, up 12.28% from 2006.

ANEC's President Paolo Protti told that there are three reasons for the stellar year: 'The quality of both international and national product has reached the tastes of the Italian public; for the first time, courage was found to release important blockbusters with consistency, particularly in July; and local product has increased the market share up to 31%, over 2006's 25%.'

With the blockbusters note, Protti is referring to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, released July 11. The film outperformed expectations, and was helped by a bevy of summer releases that supported cinema going. Titles such as Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Transformers and the late summer release of The Simpsons Movie, said Protti, assisted summer 2007 in making its mark.

Hollywood market share was strong and came in at 55.45% in 2007: slightly lower than 2006's 61.25%.

Three of 2007's top ten films and ten of the top 25 earners were local productions.

The top distributor goes to local powerhouse Medusa with a whopping $157m (Euros 106m) followed by Warner Bros. Italian $123 m (Euros 84m); Universal $113m (Euros 77m), 20th Century Fox Italia $99m (Euros 67m) 01 Distribution $89.8m (Euros 61m).

The year saw a tally of $908m (Euros 617m) up from 2006's $804m (Euros 547m), up 12.86% in revenue.

Domenico Di Noia, from a Milan-based art-house exhibitor, says local product will likely enjoy its positive upward trend in 2008.

'Italian producers are getting more savvy about national tastes,' he told 'Now, films are appealing to young audiences, like in the case of Night Before Finals 2' he said, of a sequel appealing to the 18-35 demographic.

Both Protti and Di Noia cited an increase in screens as an additional factor for growth.

But both warn that 2008 will stay in line with 2007 if US distributors continue to release blockbusters during the summer months.

Protti fears The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian will not hit Italy until August, after a May release Stateside and a June release in the rest of Europe.

So far, the fourth installment of Indiana Jones is expected to arrive in May and The Incredible Hulk sequel is also expected for a summer release.

Protti says the industry aims for 'at least 11 months of consistent distribution.'

Meanwhile, Italy is not content to wait for Hollywood - Medusa has announced (details are not available) for an Italian blockbuster with an ensemble cast of important Italian actors to see release late June.

Italian Box Office Top Performers 2007
1 Shrek the Third $29.756m
2 Christmas on a Cruise (Natale in Crociera) $28.275m
3 Love Manuel 2 (Manuale D'Amore 2 - Capitoli Successivi) $27,985m
4 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix $27,396m
5 Spider Man 3 $26.548m
6 Ratatouille $25.625m
7 Pirates of the Caribbean $24.157m
8 The Simpsons Movie $23.825m
9 The Pursuit of Happyness $22,905m
10 A Beautiful Wife (Una moglie bellissima) $21.593m