The International Circulation of ‘Youth’

Youth is the second film written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino to be included in the corpus. As well as several other matches with various criteria (like Sorrentino’s other film, La grande bellezza), Youth was also included here because it appears in the top five admissions of Italian film in all the sample countries. This case is also interesting because it was produced by Italian companies but has primarily English-language dialogue. The domestic box office takings of Youth are broadly proportional to the non-Italian European takings. Specifically, the proportion is more inclined to European ticket sales (57%) than Italian ones (32% – the lowest percentage of the top five of the top 25 most successful Italian films in the 2008-2017 period). American box-office takings are around 11% of the total. Thus for this first type of film, relating to the second, third and fifth highest takings in the USA, American spectators constitute only a small part – between 6% and 12% – of the global ticket sales.

It should be also noted that Sorrentino’s two films in the chasrt have a series of elements in common as regards their production and distribution. La grande bellezza is a majority Italian European co-production (Italy-France), as too is Youth (Italy-France-UK-Switzerland). Both films were moreover presented in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, in May 2013 and 2015 respectively. They were distributed in Italian theatres more or less contemporaneously, but reached the USA only in the winter (November 2013 and December 2015).

 Release DateScreensWeeks Opening Weekend ($)Box Office ($)Admissions
IT21 May 2013457422.471.175 9.535.8681.212.717
CH22 May 2013 (FR)
23 May 2013 (IT)
25 July 2013 (DE)
///505.58735.305
FR22 May 201381/314.467/243.800
UK6 September 20134723177.4571.516.117155.859
USA15 November 20137719255.1642.852.400321.770

Switzerland

The film was distributed in Switzerland on May 22, 2015 just for the French-speaking area, and the day after (May 23) even for the Italian-speaking market. In the German  Switzerland the film was released only on July, 25 2015. In all the different areas, the film was distributed by Pathé Films, the Swiss version of the famous French company, reaching 35.305 admissions and $505.587 at the box office. Regarding the VOD distribution, the film is available for renting/buying on Videobuster, Swisscom, Google Play, Holly Star and Exlibris.

France

The film came out in France the day after the Cannes premier (and also the Italian release), released by Pathé Distribution. The film reached 243.800 admissions, grossing in the first weekend $314.467. Sorrentino’s movie was released soon in 81 theaters thanks to the great critical success it received at Cannes film festival — even if it didn’t received any award.  In France, the film is available in streaming on OCS Go, and for renting/buying on RakutenTV, Filmo TV, Orange VOD, MyTF!vod, Google Play, Microsoft Store, iTunes and PlayStation.

United Kingdom

The distributor Curzon Artificial Eye released the film in the United Kingdom in September 6, 2013. The film sold 155.859 tickets, grossing $1.516.117 ($177.457 in the opening weekend) over its very long 23-week run, reaching a maximum of 47 theaters in the second week of distribution. In all the VOD platforms available in Great Britain, you can find the movie for renting/buying on RakutenTV, Amazon, GooglePlay, Chili, iTunes, Sky Store, Curzon Home Cinema and BFI Player, one of the most important platform for the distribution of global arthouse cinema in the UK.

 Box Office ($)AdmissionsOTT - SVODOTT - Rent/Buy
IT9.535.8681.212.717InfinityTimvision, Chili, RakutenTV
CH505.587 35.305/Videobuster, Swisscom, Google Play, Holly Star, Exlibris
FR/243.800OCS GoRakutenTV, Filmo TV, Orange VOD, MyTF!vod, Google Play, Microsoft Store, iTunes, PlayStation
UK1.516.117155.859/RakutenTV, Amazon, Google Play, Chili, iTunes, Sky Store, Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player
USA2.852.400321.770Criterion Channel, KanopyGoogle Play, Vudu, Amazon Video, iTunes,

United States

As regard distribution strategies, we can note some initial differences with the previous Sorrentino’s film. La grande bellezza was distributed in the USA by the aforementioned historical distributor of art cinema Janus Film, in collaboration with Criterion. The film sold 321,770 tickets and made $2,852,400 ($255,164 in the opening weekend) over its 19-week run, reaching a maximum of 52 screens at the height of its distribution. After this success, two years later the second of Sorrentino’s films to be distributed in the United States was acquired by Fox Searchlights, and broadly reached a similar level (317,378 viewers and $2,598,509, of which only $78,085 in its opening weekend), but through a significantly higher number of screens (149, over a 12-week run).

From a purely quantitative perspective, the two films had relatively similar audience numbers and total box office takings. However, the average taking per copy of La grande bellezza was $54,854, while the average for Youth was almost a third, at $17,439. The greater investment on behalf of Fox Searchlights therefore corresponds to a proportionally smaller economic return, with respect to what Janus and Criterion achieved for the earlier film. The greater impact of La grande bellezza in the USA is doubtless due to a series of factors, the most important of which  was certainly the film’s success at the Academy Awards, having won Best Film in a Foreign Language. Indeed, as well as guaranteeing a longer run in theatres (19 vs 12 weeks), the Oscar enabled a second release of La grande bellezza during the spring of the following year. As Marco Cucco has observed, the majority of takings in US theatres took place after the announcement of an Oscar nomination – takings increase by 90.8% on the previous weekend – and, to a slightly lesser extent, after the victory at the ceremony – an increase of 84.6%. Though it was filmed in the English language, with a cast that was for the most part Anglo-American (or English speaking), and though it could count on the success of the previous film by the same director – something likely decisive in Fox Searchlights’ decision to acquire its distribution rights – Youth was unable to achieve, proportionally, the success of La grande bellezza. What remains evident in the analysis of these two cases is how, with an analogous production model but divergent distribution models, the percentage of American spectators of the total for the two films was, broadly, equivalent: as mentioned earlier, between 11 and 12%.