Italy 's box office has taken a 3.85% dip year on year and over-all admissions are down by 4.11% according to Cinetel, the Italian ticket complier.

Overall, Italian box-office grossed $799m (Euros 594m) in 2008 compared to $831m (Euros 618m) year-on-year with 2007.

Looking at market share, US studio fare dominated Italy's 2008 box office taking a 60.25% share. US films also registered a 4.81% year-on-year increase over 2007 when US fare accounted for 55.44%.

In comparison, local films took 29.29% of the market in 2008, slipping 2.64% in respect to 2007's banner 31.93% share.

However local figures are lower than earlier projections by Paolo Protti, head of ANEC Italy's exhibitors orginisation. In November, Protti projected local pictures would surpass 2007's figures and reach up to 35% of the market.

Commenting on the disparity Protti explained to ScreenDaily, 'We over-estimated certain films and some films could have been exploited to better advantage,' Protti said,

He attributed part of the difference to late Christmas release dates.

'The first part of December was a disaster but the 25th to the end of the year was strong. If the Christmas releases had been scheduled one week earlier, on the 12th instead of the 19th we would see totally different numbers,' Protti added.

2008's top film Natale A Rio (Christmas In Rio) is one such film - a local picture produced by Aurelio De Laurentiis' Filmauro that grossed $23.7m (Euros 17.6m) in 2008 (from a December 19 release). It continues to earn taking $ 32m (Euros 23.5m) through January 8.

Other top earners for 2008 include Universal Studios Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa in second position earning $23.4m (Euros 17.4m). The film continues to earn with $ 31m (Euros 23m) to date.

Kung Fu Panda , also from Universal, earned $23m (Euros 17m). In fourth place Warner Bros. I Am Legend earned $18.7m (Euros 13.9m).

Filmauro's Grande, Grosso E Verdone, another local comedy, landed in fifth position with $17.4m (Euros 12.9m).

Of the top twenty-five films in 2008, only one is not from the US or Italy: Sony's Quantum of Solace came in 22nd position for the UK.

Top ten films 2008, Italy (box office figures through Dec. 31, 2008)

* Films that are still programmed.

1. Natale a Rio (Christmas in Rio) - Filmauro $23.7m (Euros 17.6m) - in 2008*

2. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa - Universal $23.4m (Euros 17.4m) - in 2008*

3. Kung Fu Panda - Universal $ 23m (Euros 17m).

4. I am Legend - Warner Bros $18.7m (Euros 13.9m).

5. Grande, Grosso e Verdone - Filmauro $17.4m (Euros 12.9m).

6. Scusa Ma Ti Chiamo Amore - Medusa $17m (Euros 12.7m)

7. Hancock - Sony $16.1m (Euros 12m)

8. Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - $15.3m (Euros 11.4m)

9. Twilight - Eagle Pictures $15.1m (Euros 11.3m)

10. Gomorrah - 01 Distribution $13.7m (Euros 10.2m)