Italy

B.O. CUME: $45 million (through July)
TOPPERS: Giancarlo Leone, m.d.; Carlo Macchitella, general director; Filippo Roviglioni, head of distribution
NEW RELEASES: “The Missing Star” (Sept.), “The Black Dahlia” (Oct.), “A Good Woman” (Nov.)

Pubcaster RAI’s film production/distribution arm is having its best year releasing movies since it branched out by setting up its 01 Distribution unit in 2002.

Top title has been tyro helmer Fausto Brizzi’s surprise teenpic hit “Night Before Finals” ($15.3 million), but RAI Cinema’s 01 has also scored solidly with horror pic “Saw II” ($8 million), local comedy “Really SSSupercool: Chapter Two” ($9.5 million) and even homegrown highbrow fare like Marco Bellocchio’s drama “The Wedding Director” ($3 million), proving it has the right touch with a wide range of product.

Its current 11% market share places RAI Cinema ahead of main local competitor Medusa, a sister company of commercial broadcasting rival Mediaset. RAI Cinema bested Medusa for the first time last year after it released Roberto Benigni’s “The Tiger and the Snow.”

RAI Cinema’s upcoming slate shows promise. Brian De Palma’s “The Black Dahlia” is in pole position for a good run next month after the noir starring Scarlett Johanssen and Hilary Swank opened the Venice Film Festival. And 01 has two strong local titles launching from the Lido: Gianni Amelio’s China-set “The Missing Star” and Emanuele Crialese’s Ellis Island immigration drama “The Golden Door,” both of which are likely to lure local auds.

In Cannes, RAI Cinema picked up “Love in the Time of Cholera,” which stars hot local thesp Giovanna Mezzogiorno, and drama “P.S., I Love You,” toplining Swank. The thesp proved a good draw for 01 when it released “Million Dollar Baby” in 2004.

On the production front RAI Cinema, which is among Italy’s main film financiers, is co-producing a slate of mostly local pics including veteran helmer Ermanno Olmi’s “One Hundred Nails” and Francesca Archibugi’s India-set “Flying Lessons.”

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