Laffer nabs $42 million at local B.O. in two weeks

Islamic fundamentalism-themed comedy “Che bella giornata” (What a Beautiful Day) has broken the Italo box office record for a locally made film set by Roberto Benigni’s “Life Is Beautiful” in 1997.

After just two weeks in release via Mediaset subsidiary Medusa, the mildly politically incorrect “Beautiful Day,” starring Mediaset TV comic Checco Zalone, has pulled in $42 million, slightly more than “Life’s” total take.

Helmed by Gennaro Nunziante, produced by Pietro Valsecchi and budgeted at around $6.6 million, “Beautiful Day” is about a security guard at Milan’s Duomo who becomes romantically entangled with an Arab girl who plans to bomb the Madonna statue on the cathedral’s spire.”These numbers are way beyond our most optimistic expectations,” Medusa topper Giampaolo Letta said Monday. “A phenomenon has exploded with this movie. It’s funny, it’s moving, but it also makes you think because it deals with an important topic.”

Letta noted that “Beautiful Day” is the latest in a string of more sophisticated Italian comedies, marking an important departure from the country’s customarily vulgar local laffers.

“There really is a new Italian comedy wave under way,” he said, “and this is something Medusa has been working on.”

Since October Medusa has grossed almost $130 million with four smart laffers which, besides “Beautiful Day,” include “Benvenuti al Sud,” a remake of Gallic megahit “Welcome to the Sticks,” and Christmas comedy “La banda dei Babbi Natale” (The Santa Claus Gang), starring comic trio Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo.

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