State rallies behind film biz

Italy’s state-run film group Ente Gestione is making a big push on all fronts with busy studios, plans for increased production, distribution and exhibition activity, and a beefed-up international promotion program.

Activities by the company’s production, distribution and exhibition arm, Istituto Luce, are now overlapping, because Luce can no longer put up minimum guarantees, according to new film laws.

Money is now converted into a percentage of each film, with Luce becoming a co-producer of all titles on its release sked.

Upcoming Luce co-productions and releases include Theo Angelopoulos’ Cannes prize winner “Ulysses’ Gaze”; Ettore Scola’s “Story of a Poor Young Man”; and the Pasolini-inspired “Love for Love,” directed by Sergio Citti.

Luce distribution and exhibition activities are overseen by Antonio Salvatori. With some 11 screens in seven cities, Salvatori is on the lookout for new theaters in Italy’s 12 major urban centers.

With a short theatrical season and tough competition from U.S. productions for available screens, “We’re trying to cover as many of these 12 cities as possible.”

“They are vital for a film’s release, but getting a movie onto screens isn’t always a day at the beach,” says Salvatori.

The Ente Cinema-owned Cinecitta studios are solidly booked, following a year that saw barely 10 foreign and domestic pics shot there. Rentals start at $190 to $1,200 a day for bare studios. Last year, Cinecitta racked up close to $22 million in billings. About 20% of revenue comes from TV productions.

The new $70 million to $75 million Sylvester Stallone actioner, “Daylight,” helmed by Robert Cohen, is set to lens from August through December. A second U.S. pic is Brit director Anthony Minghella’s “The English Patient,” starring Ralph Fiennes, and produced by Saul Zaentz.

Kiwi helmer Jane Campion will use Cinecitta for “Portrait of a Lady,” toplining Nicole Kidman. Other films lined up include Marco Bellocchio’s “The Prince of Homburg.”

Although pleased with this year’s upswing, one studio insider laments Cinecitta’s lack of an aggressive international marketing policy. “Even though we’re known throughout the world, we really can’t afford to just coast on our reputation.”

Cinecitta has inked an agreement with the French Les Films de l’Astre to bring more European and hopefully American TV and film productions to the studios.

The studio’s commercial division, Cinecitta Intl., headed by CEO Raffaele Maiello, has big plans for the coming year for promotion of Italo cinema overseas.

A complete retrospective of Bernardo Bertolucci’s films, featuring restored prints, is planned for December at New York’s Lincoln Center.

Other retros include a late July showing in L.A. of eight restored Roberto Rossellini pics, including the famous war trilogy.

With a 1995 operating budget of $2.1 million, a 19% drop from ’94, Maiello says, “We try to recoup expenses by acquiring rights to contemporary and classic films.”

However, according to Maiello, the real growth sector is multimedia. “This is the future for our commercial division. We’re working out an agreement with Sony for our CDROM division, as well as with Italian publisher D’Agostino.”

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Scene News from Variety