Recent film is Italy's foreign Oscar candidate

ROME Emboldened by the success of Gabriele Salvatores’ “I’m Not Scared,” producer Maurizio Totti has secured a hefty cash injection from Italian financier Emilio Gnutti and is ramping up his multifold activities.

Totti — a former disk jockey and talent agent who founded Milan-based indie Colorado Films 18 years ago in a partnership with Salvatores and actor Diego Abatantuono — has set up a new holding company called Iven. A 30% Iven stake has been sold to Gnutti, whose Hopa merchant bank is a powerhouse with assets ranging from a controlling interest in Telecom Italia to insurance, banks and real estate.

While he would not reveal the entirety of Gnutti’s investment, Totti called it substantial.

“Let’s say this thing is a car,” Totti says. “I am the driver, I decide where to go. But the two of us will decide how fast we should travel and how much fuel we’ll put in the tank,” he explains.

Flush with cash, Totti now intends to beef up his company’s film activity, expand his Moviement talent agency, and bolster Colorado’s highly lucrative TV spot production unit, Colorado Commercials.

Furthermore, hot on the heels of the success of his Milan standup comedy club, Colorado Cafe, the multihyphenate entrepreneur has plans to launch an Italian comedy club franchise. Recently Totti inked a deal with Mediaset for a weekly telecast of Colorado Cafe’s live shows.

More than new drapes

“I have always envisioned entertainment as a big house with different windows of opportunity. I will now have more means to work on each of these windows,” he says.

On the film side — which he still sees as his main activity — Totti says he will now be investing more on development and take greater financial risk himself. While current plans are to shepherd no more than three pics per year, the Colorado Films topper does not rule out branching into distribution.

“I’m Not Scared,” which Totti co-produced with Rome indie Cattleya, opened up new avenues for Colorado and Salvatores after Miramax snapped up U.S. rights in Berlin last year. The thriller about a young boy who discovers his parents are kidnappers is Italy’s foreign Oscar candidate.

Colorado recently forged a tie with CAA, which will be shopping potential English-language projects for Salvatores to direct, but also for Colorado to board as an Italian co-producer, regardless of whether Salvatores is attached.

While Totti has not yet assembled a new film slate, projects currently in his pipeline include “The Loves of Judith,” a romancer based on Israeli writer Meir Shalev’s novel about three men contending for the love of an enigmatic woman, which Salvatores may or may not direct. The script is being penned by “I’m Not Scared” scribe Francesca Marciano. If Salvatores chooses to pass, another high-profile director will be sought, Totti says.

On other fronts, plans are under way to open a Spanish branch of Moviement — which now represents about 100 mostly Italian artists including A-list thesps Monica Bellucci and Stefania Rocca and hitmaking young director Gabriele Muccino — either in Madrid or Barcelona in coming months.

Totti said Gnutti’s wide range of enterprises is likely to generate more business for Colorado Commercials, which this year generated $7 million in revenues.

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