Lanterna pays for freedom

Animation boutique buys back majority stake

TURIN — Lanterna Magica, one of Italy’s top animation boutiques, has bought back the majority stake it sold to Medusa Film in 2001 and will fly solo again.

Financing came from veteran Italian TV producer Roberto Baratta, who has become the Turin-based toon studio’s managing director. No fiscal details have been disclosed.

Under Medusa, Lanterna Magica produced Maurizio Forestieri’s “Toto sapore,” a history of pizza that Medusa is releasing this Christmas. Owned by Italo Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Fininvest, Medusa is a sister company to Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset.

Lanterna founder and prexy Maria Fares said the company has a deal to produce three toon features for Medusa, the first of which is to be released in 2006.

But being independent will allow Lanterna to resume its longstanding relationship with RAI. The pair are in talks on TV series “Gino the Chicken.”

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