Rush to Judgment

Helmer Risi pulls Italo 'Eve' after poor bow

ROME — In an attempt to save one of the major Italian productions of the season following its disastrous debut weekend, director Marco Risi has taken the almost unprecedented step of withdrawing his new feature, “The Last New Year’s Eve,” from circulation just days after it opened.

“This is a serious and painful decision but a necessary one,” Risi said. “I believe that my film reached the public in the wrong way, and without adequate preparation, having completed post-production only three days before its release.

“It’s a real shame that an Italian film involving a considerable production investment and intended for a wide audience is destined to disappear in the space of a few days,” the director added.

Produced by Risi and Maurizio Tedesco and budgeted at $5 million — a relatively hefty pricetag by Italian industry standards — the effects-laden comedy represents an aggressive attempt by state film body Istituto Luce, which co-produced and distributed the film, to challenge the domain of heavyweight Italian film producers the Cecchi Gori Group and Medusa.

Based on a short novel by Nicolo Ammaniti, the film centers on the residents of a swanky Rome apartment block literally annihilated during their New Year’s Eve festivities.

Released Friday on 39 screens, it grossed just north of $60,000 during the weekend, an uncommonly low result that suggests the total disinterest of Italian moviegoers. Risi feels the publicity campaign and press surrounding the film created the impression of a dark, apocalyptic work rather than an irreverent comedy.

“Instead of waiting around until it’s too late to do anything and then trying to reanimate the corpse, we decided to take the film out of theaters and think about what went wrong and what we can do to fix it,” Tedesco told Daily Variety.

No decision has yet been made about when the film will be reissued. The shell-shocked producers say a new campaign may be rushed through before the summer for release in the coming weeks, but they appear more likely to hold off until the fall. Tedesco excludes the possibility that the film, which landed a mixed critical reception, will be recut.

“I don’t think the problem lies in the film, but in the fact that we arrived at the release date out of breath,” Tedesco said. “We rushed to get it finished and perhaps we didn’t stop to think that there were other things to be done to prepare for the launch.”

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