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Author Topic: Gialli Incasso - Box Office  (Read 8093 times)

Zarith

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Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« on: 27 Nov 2010 - 11:48 »

According to most directors, actors, journalists and fans, the Thrilling All' Italiana genre was extremely popular in the late 60ies and early 70ies.

Apparently this genre was a cash machine and career booster. It was so popular that almost every B movies director made one. Sergio Martino mentioned in interviews that both Lo Strano Vizio della Segniora Wardh and Torso were hits at the box office, Lucio Fulci said the same about Una Sull'Altra and A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, Umberto Lenzi about So Sweet So Perverse or Orgasmo.

Unfortunately I cannot confirm this. I studied the Italian box office and each movie's Incasso and was shocked to see that most classic gialli were not popular at all. The box-office rankings are so bad that I'm wondering why the trend lasted so long. This genre made less money than any other Italian filone.

Dario Argento is the only one who managed to penetrate the Italian TOP 20. His highest ranking is #8 in 1971 with Il Gato A Nove Code. All his gialli were in fact successful, never going below #13. His popularity is however an exception, almost an absurdity. Thrillers and horror films were extremely rare in the Italian TOP 20, usually populated by comedies, westerns and "high art" movies by Luchino Visconti, Ettore Escola or Bernardo Bertolucci.

From 1969 to 1973, here's the giallo box office (limited to film appearing in the yearly TOP 100):

-Il Gatto a 9 Code by Dario Argento, #8 in 1971
-Quattro Mosche Di Velluto Grigio by Dario Argento, #12 in 1972
-L'Uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo by Dario Argento, #13 in 1970
-Non Si Sevizia Un Paperino by Lucio Fulci, #36 in 1972
-Una Sull'Altra by Lucio Fulci, #39 in 1969
-Una Lucertola Con La Pelle Di Donna by Lucio Fulci, #44 in 1971
-L'Etrusco Uccide Ancora by Armando Crispino, #53 in 1972
-Una Farfalla Dalle Ali Insanguinate by Duccio Tessari, #60 in 1971
-Cose Avete Fatto A Solange? by Massimo Dallamano, #61 in 1972
-Lo Strano Vizio Della Signora Wardh by Sergio Martino, #70 in 1971
-La Morte Risale A Ieri Sera by Duccio Tessari, #75 in 1970
-Foto Proibite Di Una Signora Bene, by Luciano Ercoli #87 in 1970
-La Tarantola Dal Ventre Nero di Paolo Cavara, #95 in 1971
-Giornata Nera Per l'Ariete by Luigi Bazzoni, #98 in 1971

Only Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci made hits. Crispino, Tessari, Dallamano and Martino are also successful: #53 to #70 is relatively good for low budgets thrillers. The other gialli were flops, totally ignored.

It means that only 10 gialli out of the 200 produced during this period were truly popular. If we remove the outsiders Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci we are down to 4! That's extremely low compared to other filone (westerns, peplums, polizio.., etc...).

This genre was also a downer for most directors, a real plague.

Tonino Valerii could easily go up to the TOP 5 with his western: I Giorni Dell'ira and Il Mio Nome E Nessuno were both #5 in 1968 and 1973. But Mio Caro Assassino, his only giallo, kicked him out of the TOP 100. It was a gigantic flop for this very popular director. Duccio Tessari had also a bad experience with his gialli: none of them reached the popularity of his other movies.

Even genre specialists like Sergio Martino and Lucio Fulci had a hard time with the Thrilling. By switching to other genres they reached a much wider audience. Lucio Fulci's comedy All'Onorevole Piacciono Le Donne was #30 in 1972 and his Zanna Bianca was #12 in 1973. For Sergio Martino the difference is even more striking. Only one of his thriller appears in the TOP 100, but his comedies went up to #14. Tutti I Colori Del Buio's gross, for example, is only 290 millions lira, while Zucchero, Miele E Peperoncino a generous 1.3 billions.


Now I suppose these results must be balanced with the international career and evaluated over a longer period, but in 1970 nobody could guess how popular these films would be in other territories or on second release. The film companies could only rely on the Italian box-office results. And they were mediocre. So why did they start to produce so many of these films? It's a mystery to me...

It seems that Italian producers were all hypnotized by Dario Argento's success. L'Uccelo Dal Piume Di Cristallo was such an unexpected hit, that they directly developed dozens of clones, all to be released in 1971-1972, at the hysteric pace of 1 per week. As soon as they noticed that only Dario Argento had the key to the TOP 20, they stopped abruptly the production. In late 1972 it was over.

I'm a getting it right? Did I miss something?

Thanks for any input.
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Jonny

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #1 on: 27 Nov 2010 - 12:25 »

I did a few Lira to $ conversions of box office takings a while back in this thread...

http://www.lovelockandload.net/forum/index.php?topic=1990.0

Can't answer you're question but it might be interesting all the same though.
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CardPlayer4

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #2 on: 27 Nov 2010 - 18:40 »

Dario Argento is the only one who managed to penetrate the Italian TOP 20.

Do you have the numbers of admissions for Argento's films in Italy Zarith?
I can't find them anywhere,just the numbers of admissions for his last 5 films.
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Zarith

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #3 on: 28 Nov 2010 - 15:15 »

I did a few Lira to $ conversions of box office takings a while back in this thread...

http://www.lovelockandload.net/forum/index.php?topic=1990.0

Can't answer you're question but it might be interesting all the same though.


Thanks Johnny!

Do you have the numbers of admissions for Argento's films in Italy Zarith?
I can't find them anywhere,just the numbers of admissions for his last 5 films.


I only have the incassi and box office ranking. But it's easy to make an estimation.

The price of a ticket in the early 70ies was 350 lira. It means the number of admissions was (approx.):

L'Uccello...: 1.3 billions lira > 3.4 millions tickets.
Il Gatto...: 2.4 billions lira > 6.8 millions tickets.
Quatre Mosche...: 2.3 billions lira > 6.5 millions tickets.

In the mid 70ies the ticket price went up to 700 lira. We then get something like:

Profondo Rosso: 3.7 billions > 5.2 millions tickets.
Suspiria: 3.4 billions >  4.8 millions tickets.
Inferno: 4 billions > 5.7 millions tickets (probably a bit less).

For the movies of the 80ies and later, I don't know. The Italian global gross is rarely available, we only get the results of the first release in large cities. But you could figure it out by comparing it with other films.

http://www.hitparadeitalia.it/bof/boi/index.html

In any case, Argento is successful only until Opera. From Tenebre to Opera, the number of admission never go bellow 3 millions and Argento stay in the TOP 20. After that it's a brutal decline: Due Occhi brings him down to #49 and he will stay there for the next 15 years (Trauma is #48,... Il Cartaio #53). It's bad but not disastrous considering the state of  Italian cinema, totally dominated by local comedies and Hollywood blockbusters. No other Italian thriller director did better.

Until now, his only true flop is La Terza Madre, #83, his worse rank ever. And Giallo didn't do better as far as I know.
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CardPlayer4

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #4 on: 28 Nov 2010 - 15:33 »


L'Uccello...: 1.3 billions lira > 3.4 millions tickets.
Il Gatto...: 2.4 billions lira > 6.8 millions tickets.
Quatre Mosche...: 2.3 billions lira > 6.5 millions tickets.

In the mid 70ies the ticket price went up to 700 lira. We then get something like:

Profondo Rosso: 3.7 billions > 5.2 millions tickets.
Suspiria: 3.4 billions >  4.8 millions tickets.
Inferno: 4 billions > 5.7 millions tickets (probably a bit less).


Incredible numbers,when you think about it!
The kind of numbers Sergio Leone did with his spaghetti westerns,i guess?
Now,like you said,only comedies seem to do well in Italy,and a few thrillers too ("Romanzo criminale","Palermo Milano..."...Michele Soavi's "Arrivederci amore,ciao" bombed,though)...also the  Ferzan Ozpetek and Carlo Verdone films doing very well at the italian box office.


After that it's a brutal decline: Due Occhi brings him down to #49 and he will stay there for the next 15 years (Trauma is #48,... Il Cartaio #53). It's bad but not disastrous considering the state of  Italian cinema, totally dominated by local comedies and Hollywood blockbusters. No other Italian thriller director did better.


According to Imdb "La sindrome di Stendhal","Non ho sonno" and "Il Cartaio" all did between 425 000 and 470 000 admissions in Italy...not huge but not bad too for "genre films" (if in France we could make these kind of admissions for our horror films it would be awesome ha ha ;D...in France the average for the "new wave of horror french films" is around and often less than 100 000 admissions per film!!!...save for a few "old" hits like "Le pacte des loups","the crimson rivers" or "Promenons nous dans les bois")

Until now, his only true flop is La Terza Madre, #83, his worse rank ever.


Isn't it "Phantom of the Opera"?...i've read that "Phantom" at the time bombed in Italy,especially because it was a pretty big budget for an european horror film (on Imdb: 255 000 admissions for "Phantom",around 340 000 for "La Terza Madre")...but "La Terza Madre" indeed met disappointing results for Medusa,i remember that it was a pretty big release for them,like "Il Cartaio" was,in a lesser extent,in 2004.
I forgot "Le cinque giornate" which wasn't really a hit too...



http://www.hitparadeitalia.it/bof/boi/index.html



I don't know what happened to this site but a few times ago the italian box office from 1977 to now was still available...and we could see indeed that

From Tenebre to Opera, the number of admission never go bellow 3 millions and Argento stay in the TOP 20.


"Opera" was said at the time to be an half success/half failure at the italian box office because of its big budget but it did 1 million of admissions in Italy!!..."Phenomena","Demons" and "La Chiesa" (doing more than "Freddy 4" and "Tucker" in 1989...) were also hits.
"Deep Red" is Argento's most well known and praised film in Italy but it's a bit fun to notice that the often maligned "Cat'o"nine tails" did overall better numbers..
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Zarith

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #5 on: 29 Nov 2010 - 00:05 »

Incredible numbers,when you think about it!
The kind of numbers Sergio Leone did with his spaghetti westerns,i guess?

Yes, unbelievable.

6 millions spectators, That's 25% of Italy's total population in 1971!

What I find really strange, and it was the purpose of my post, is that no other giallo director was as successful as Dario Argento. Il Gatto... did better at the box-office than the total of ALL the other gialli released the same year. I can't explain this...

If the Italian liked Il Gatto... so much why did they ignore Chi L'Ha Vista Morire?, La Coda Dello Scorpione, Mio Caro Assassino, Reazione A Catena, Sette Orchide Macchiate di Rosso or La Tarantola Dal Ventre Nero? All released the same year?

Until now, his only true flop is La Terza Madre, #83, his worse rank ever.

Isn't it "Phantom of the Opera"?

I was mentioning the ranking. Il Fantasma... was #53, between Leathal Weapon 4 and Scream 2. Not bad. La Terza Madre, on the other hand, was #83.

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CardPlayer4

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #6 on: 29 Nov 2010 - 20:41 »

What I find really strange, and it was the purpose of my post, is that no other giallo director was as successful as Dario Argento. Il Gatto... did better at the box-office than the total of ALL the other gialli released the same year. I can't explain this...

If the Italian liked Il Gatto... so much why did they ignore Chi L'Ha Vista Morire?, La Coda Dello Scorpione, Mio Caro Assassino, Reazione A Catena, Sette Orchide Macchiate di Rosso or La Tarantola Dal Ventre Nero? All released the same year?

maybe that tv also greatly helped Argento to be famous in Italy,thanks to "la porta sul buio" episodes??...i don't know...
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argento

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #7 on: 30 Nov 2010 - 11:44 »

 I read somewhere that "Revenge in El Paso" was a bigger box office hit than the Leone films,
 I wonder do the cinema chains in Italy have any independance , or are they U.S owned?
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Jonny

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #8 on: 30 Nov 2010 - 12:09 »


 I wonder do the cinema chains in Italy have any independance , or are they U.S owned?


Are talking about in the present or back in the 60's, 70's and 80's?

Here's a current list of European cinema chains, not many owned by the United States...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cinema_and_movie_theater_chains#Europe

I'd say back in the golden age of cinema there would be hardly any US owned cinemas in Italy, why would there be?
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Filmbar70

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #9 on: 30 Nov 2010 - 12:39 »

Great research folks - I'm guessing the answer lies in funding. Thrillers were more exportable to foreign markets than the more natively popular comedies (until the rise of the Sex comedy that is - which effectively put an end to the thrillers), hence foreign investors being more amenable to co-productions. Greater pre sales would mean producers would have more confidence to green-light (half the movies produced in Italy '72 were co-productions). As stated, the extraordinary financial success of the sex comedy both internationally and domestically put paid to this...
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Camera Obscura

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #10 on: 30 Nov 2010 - 16:49 »

Thanks. I love these kind of statistics.

Hard to say what genres were most successful. Those Italian box ofice statistics speak for themselves of course, but to me it seems many gialli or 'thriller al'Italiana' might have been more successful abroad compared to Westerns, crime thrillers, let alone comedies (that did hardly anything at all outside Italy). For Death Walks on High Heels, IMDb mentions a figure of 722,000 admissions for Spain, but of course, that one got Nieves Navarro in a starring role, but somehow many seem to have taken in very healthy profits in France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Greece, Turkey etc, much more than crime films, although they are so many cross-overs, it's almost impossible to make a clear distinction between many genres.

Just looked in The Encyclopedia of European Cinema (ed., Ginette Vincendeau London 1995) for some numbers on European Cinema:

Film production Italy:

50s:  1323 films (including 372 co-productions)
60s:  2307 films (including 1098 co-productions)
70s:  1985 films (including 592 co-productions) - in 1971 Italy produced 216 films of which 88 co-productions.
80s:  1145 films (including 166 co-productions)

The number of co-productions rapidly drops off after 1975. I have no idea where they obtained these figures and for most countries the estimates seem a bit conservative, but I have no other reliable figures at hand here.

Audience figures for Italy 1971:
535,700,000 (roughly 9,9 tickets per inhabitant per year)

Peak year in absolute numbers was 1955 with 819,400,000 (roughly 16 tickets per inhabitant per year)

Until 1975 audience figures in Italy remain remarkably healthy, after 1975 a steady decline sets in. Look at the numbers.
1980: 241,900,000 (4,3 per inhabitant per year)
1990: 90,500,000 (1,6 per inhabitant per year)

During the 60s and 70s audience figures (per head) in Italy were comparable to Spain, Portugal, Greece, but much higher than in France (always low), or Britain or Germany, where cinema attendance already dwindled by the early 60s, with the most catastrofic decline in West Germany where audience figures dropped from a peak of 817,500,000 in 1956 to just 180,400,000 in 1968, while the Italians clearly kept going well into the 70s.



Yes, unbelievable.

6 millions spectators, That's 25% of Italy's total population in 1971!


I think Italy had roughly 54 million inhabitants in 1971, which would make 11 % of the total population. Still very impressive, though.
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Zarith

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #11 on: 30 Nov 2010 - 18:34 »

I think Italy had roughly 54 million inhabitants in 1971, which would make 11 % of the total population. Still very impressive, though.

You're right, 54 millions! How could I get it wrong  ???

For Death Walks on High Heels, IMDb mentions a figure of 722,000 admissions for Spain, but of course, that one got Nieves Navarro in a starring role, but somehow many seem to have taken in very healthy profits in France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Greece, Turkey etc,

That's interesting.

700 000 admissions in Spain is very good. I'm sure that it was less in Italy. Probably 300 000 (if I compare it to more successful gialli released the same year).


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Camera Obscura

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #12 on: 30 Nov 2010 - 19:42 »

I think Italy had roughly 54 million inhabitants in 1971, which would make 11 % of the total population. Still very impressive, though.

You're right, 54 millions! How could I get it wrong  ???


Happens to me all the time, buddy. Don't worry about it.

I corrected sth as well, according to this Encyclopedia of European Cinema, Italy produced 216 films in 1971 of which 88 co-productions. I only counted the 'purely' Italian productions.

I can't really explain the almost total absence of Gialli in these box office charts. Perhaps they were considered a little too seedy for many regular theaters. On the other hand, outside Italy, they almost invariably got some of the most lurid advertzing I can think off. But it differs, my impression is Martino's Gialli were advertized as 'regular' thrillers, more like Chabrol's thriller-cycle back then (that contained quite a liberal dose of sex and violence as well), while others were targeted at the erotic/sex film market.

Also, they were relatively cheap to make. Westerns and crime thrillers heavily relied on action, sometimes needed expensive sets, and in case of Westerns, lots of extras. And i get the impression that gialli/thrillers got a longer lifespan at the box office than most genres. Many played out over a number of years, and sometimes were remarketed, re-cut, re-scored etc. as sex-films, and many seem to haved popped up years later in various forms in all corners of the world, while most westerns, crime films and comedies simply vanished after two years (the great exception being Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, undisputed kings of the Italian box office in the 70s, many very successful re-runs as well).

But what these box office figures mostly show is that what we consider (cult-)classics now, often did nothing to very little at the box office on first release, while many breakout hits are totally forgotten nowadays (or at least, unknown outside Italy). How many people have heard of Ricomincio da tre (1980) from Massimo Troisi? It topped the Italian box office in 1980-81. Now standing at a measly 377 votes at IMDb and never had any non-Italian release to my knowledge.

And all those films by the recently deceased Mario Monicelli, or Dino Risi, or Pietro Germi? Box office hit after box office hit, but did very little in other countries. Compare that to some Gialli, that - over a five year period - might have outperformed many Risi, Germi and Monicelli hits tenfold abroad. Very little might have returned in the pockets of the original producers, but they were sold in dozens of territories.

But again, I'm only speculating. It's hard to obtain reliable numbers. According to Lenzi, Paranoia sold millions of tickets, but perhaps not in Italy.  ;D





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Zarith

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #13 on: 30 Nov 2010 - 21:43 »

I can't really explain the almost total absence of Gialli in these box office charts. Perhaps they were considered a little too seedy for many regular theaters. On the other hand, outside Italy, they almost invariably got some of the most lurid advertzing I can think off. But it differs, my impression is Martino's Gialli were advertized as 'regular' thrillers, more like Chabrol's thriller-cycle back then (that contained quite a liberal dose of sex and violence as well), while others were targeted at the erotic/sex film market.

That must be right. They were definitely not widely released in primera vizione theatre, but more in the dirty grindhouse circuit. I was amused to read that most of them were considered "porno" back then.

Sergio Martino did relatively good results in Italy. Lo Strano Vizio... was #70 in 1971, and brought 612 millions lira. That translate in approximately 1.7 millions admissions. Very good for a low budget film without stars. Apparently the international release was also successful.

Also, they were relatively cheap to make. Westerns and crime thrillers heavily relied on action, sometimes needed expensive sets, and in case of Westerns, lots of extras. And i get the impression that gialli/thrillers got a longer lifespan at the box office than most genres.

Yes. That must be the reason why so many were produced. It was a small investment, without many risks. Luciano Martino was a specialist at this (for Dardano Sacchetti he was even doing "cinematographic dumping").

But what these box office figures mostly show is that what we consider (cult-)classics now, often did nothing to very little at the box office on first release, while many breakout hits are totally forgotten nowadays (or at least, unknown outside Italy). How many people have heard of Ricomincio da tre (1980) from Massimo Troisi? It topped the Italian box office in 1980-81. Now standing at a measly 377 votes at IMDb and never had any non-Italian release to my knowledge.

Yes. It's strange to see so many box-office hits are totally forgotten now. Most of the movie of The Italian TOP 10 from 1970 to 1975 are unknown to me. But it might be a cultural problem. American blockbuster imposed themselves and overshadowed the whole European cinema industry.

I'm only speculating. It's hard to obtain reliable numbers. According to Lenzi, Paranoia sold millions of tickets, but perhaps not in Italy.  ;D

That's jealousy speaking  :D
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Johnny66

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Re: Gialli Incasso - Box Office
« Reply #14 on: 03 Dec 2010 - 09:54 »

This is a terrific thread - thanks for some really interesting reading! Beyond 'La Dolce Morte', I've found there's very little substantive material regarding gialli (beyond rehashed reviews). The material contained herein is fascinating.
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