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Italo producers throw big promo push for ‘Snowball’

Italian producers Ciro Ippolito and Fulvio Lucisano have embarked on what they call an operation of Disneyesque proportions to push “Snowball,” the homegrown adventure pic that they hope will dominate the domestic family market this Christmas.

Merchandising deals have been struck for some 50 different product lines including books, drinking glasses, kids’ pajamas, pen and pencil sets, back-to-school stationery and a specially produced, white-frosted version of the traditional Italian Christmas cake, panettone.

Italy’s leading publisher, Mondadori, will release a novelization, an interactive game/book and a photographic volume based on the film. Total revenues generated by the merchandise are estimated to be around $55 million, 15% of which will go to the producers.

Lucisano’s Italian Intl. Film will open the pic nationally in mid-December on 100 prints following its world preem at the Tokyo Film Festival this fall.

Animal tale

Directed by Maurizio Nichetti, the comedy eco-fable set on the Greek island of Santorini is budgeted at $3.75 million, with a further $1.25 million earmarked for promotion and marketing.

The story follows the efforts of a young boy, his mother and an over-the-hill actor to return “Snowball,” a Beluga dolphin, to its native habitat in the Arctic Seas, delivering the mammal from the clutches of a villain whose scam selling dolphins to the world’s marine parks is a cover for international arms trafficking.

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