After the gloomand doom of reports that Italian admissions tumbled sharply in the first halfof 2005, Italy has announced a formidable 44% rise in box office takings forthe month of July.

According to figures released by data-gathering body,Cinetel, Euros 19m were earned at the box office in July, a 44% hike on thesame month last year.

The rise waslargely due to The War of the Worlds, which itself was responsible for 50% of all box officegrosses in July.

Walter Vacchino,head of national exhibitors union ANEC was in jubilant mood following the news.However, like other members of the local film industry, he also cautioned thata large number of Hollywood pictures are still seeing their summer releasedelayed in Italy until September or even later - a move that is damaging to thelocal industry.

The July data"is an excellent result," Vacchino said. "It shows that over theyears spectators have become more and more used to going to the cinema in thesummer too.

"That iswhy I regret even more that we cannot offer our spectators films that have comeout in other European countries, such as Madagascar, The Fantastic Four,Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, Amityville Horror and Wedding Crashers," he said.

"TheItalian film industry should absolutely not have lost this very importantopportunity, given the losses in the first half of 2005," he added.

Cinemaadmissions plummeted 18.05% in Italy in the first half of 2005 with a 17.84%slump at the box office, according to Cinetel, which monitors around 75% of allscreens.

Nevertheless, Vacchino saidhe was feeling optimistic about the second half of the year. "I think wewill see July's trend continue in the coming months, thanks to the excellentproduct that will be released."