Revamped org wants to boost Italo pic profile

Having undergone a radical reconfiguration, Italy’s film production and promotion entity, Cinecitta Luce, is poised to boost its role as a local industry driver and to strengthen its international ties under prexy Roberto Cicutto, the respected producer who has become the Italian film industry’s new ambassador.

Cicutto, former co-chief of prominent Italo arthouse shingle Mikado, unveiled the new entity on the Croisette, along with Cinecitta Luce CEO Luciano Sovena, and Italo film department czar Gaetano Blandini.

Blandini said Cinecitta Holding and Istituto Luce, the entity’s production and distribution side, have been merged into Cinecitta Luce as the final act of a restructuring, which will shore up some $80 million in accumulated debt.

Blandini, who described himself as “the cleanup guy,” has over the past year consolidated several Cinecitta sub-units to make the company more cost-efficient, and sold off two others. 

Cinecitta’s Mediaport exhibition loop of 120 screens went to Italo producer Massimo Ferrero  for $36 million. And the Italian government’s 24% stake in Cinecitta’s now-privatized studio facilities, which are called Cinecitta Studios, went for $15 million to the studio’s other shareholders, which include producer Aurelio De Laurentiis. 

Italy’s film promotion body Filmitalia has been folded into Cinecitta Luce, but will continue to operate as Filmitalia since it’s an  an already known brand.

Cicutto, a producer and distributor with more than 30 years experience, now takes the reins.

“The mandate I have is to try and turn Cinecitta Luce into an entity that can provide producers, distributors and all the people who do film business in Italy with the help they need to utilize Italian tax credits for foreign producers, and also to tap into our incentives for international distribution of Italian movies,” Cicutto said.

The recently introduced tax credits provide international productions a 25% deduction with an E5 million ($6.6 million) cap.

For Italian producers, having Cicutto at bat for them is considered a big plus.

“I know a lot of people in the industry and on the festival circuit — like Gilles Jacob, for example. So these guys can’t lie to me,” Cicutto joked.

In his role as Cinecitta Luce chief, Cicutto will also be taking an active role in luring co-productions to Italy.

“One of the most important things will be to try and simplify the co-production treaties across Europe. My dream is that we could agree to hammer out one single treaty that works all over Europe rather than have separate treaties for each country,” he said. 

On the production side, CEO Sovena said Luce will continue its two-pronged strategy of shepherding first works by Italian helmers while concurrently pursuing international projects. Luce has several co-productions in the works with Argentina, including “Toxic Jungle,” a musical rock comedy directed by Gianfranco Quatrini.

Cinecitta Luce’s total budget for 2009 is $25 million. How it will be split between promotion and production is still being decided.

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