Futures of Muccino remake, De Sica project uncertain

Three years after Miramax Intl. opened an outpost in Rome to front the company’s production and distribution activity in Italy, the entity called Miramax Italia has been radically reconfigured, with a new corporate role for its chief, Fabrizio Lombardo.

Harvey Weinstein announced Monday that Lombardo will segue from his existing role as Miramax Intl. senior VP to a consultancy position as personal European investment adviser to the Miramax chief and his co-chairman, Bob Weinstein.

“My brother and I plan to tap Fabrizio’s diverse skill set to further our investment and strategic corporate opportunities throughout Europe,” Harvey Weinstein said in a statement. “The Italian entertainment industry has been a wonderful arena for Miramax and to us personally, and we will maintain our mandate of focusing efforts within the country’s creative and entertainment business community.”

Maintaining a fully staffed Rome office would seem to make little financial sense, given that distribution of Miramax releases in Italy is handled through Buena Vista Intl. or independent distribs, while acquisitions are the responsibility of an international team headed by New York-based exec VP of acquisitions and co-productions Agnes Mentre.

Calls to the Miramax Italia office in Rome revealed that the office no longer exists.

Molto attivo

Miramax has been highly active in Italy in recent years, shooting “Gangs of New York” at Rome’s Cinecitta studios, releasing Nanni Moretti’s Palme d’Or winner “The Son’s Room” and co-financing both Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Malena” and Roberto Benigni’s commercially ill-fated “Pinocchio.”

More recently, the company acquired Marco Tullio Giordana’s “The Best of Youth” and Gabriele Salvatores’ “I’m Not Scared,” which has been selected as Italy’s foreign-lingo Oscar contender this year.

Lombardo is working on bringing the production of Alejandro Agresti’s English-language film “Renato’s Luck” to Italy. However, London-based senior VP of production Gina Gardini will become Miramax’s chief liaison with the Italian film and television community.

Two up in the air

Miramax Italia last year announced production plans on two projects, the status of which now appears uncertain.

Gabriele Muccino (“The Last Kiss”) was slated to direct an English-language remake of Ettore Scola’s “We All Loved Each Other So Much,” while Christian De Sica was attached to star in and possibly direct “La Porta Del Cielo” (The Gate of Heaven), an Italian-language drama about the shooting of a Vatican-financed film by Vittorio De Sica during the Nazi occupation of Rome.

Neither project is believed to have advanced since the announcement.

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