Despite this year's groundbreaking summer programming of Hollywood blockbusters in cinemas across Italy, it looks like local distributors and exhibitors will always find it tough to compete against the lure of the sun and the beach.

According to data released by Italian body Cinetel, box office takings across the country collapsed by 48% from July 19-21 compared to the previous weekend, as temperatures in Italy hit the 90s.

Takings were slashed from Euros 3,071,529 to just Euros 1,586,452, as Hollywood big-hitters such as Columbia Tristar's Resident Evil and Spider Man, Warner Bros' Scooby-Doo and Buena Vista's Lilo & Stitch failed to change the leisure behaviour of Italian crowds.

The blame for the drop this year couldn't be placed on cinemas closing down for the summer, as the number of screens operating only dipped from 1,527 to 1,431 during the last weekend.

Meanwhile, Resident Evil grossed Euros 624,739 from 110,418 admissions, Spider Man earned Euros 521,807 and clocked in 91,997 admissions while Scooby-Doo grossed Euros 449,143 from 84,686 spectators.

The disappointing takings come despite the fact that this year local distributors unanimously and officially agreed to reverse the pattern of previous years and release 60 films on 1,500 screens between May 15 and July 31.

That move marked a dramatic change from last year, when most distributors shied away from releasing any pictures at all and most exhibitors, with the exception of new multiplexes, shut down their non-air conditioned cinemas during the summer.