Benigni’s fairy tale opening

'Pinocchio' crafts record Italo bow

ROME — Roberto Benigni’s retelling of classic fairy tale “Pinocchio” will open Oct. 11 in Italy on a record 860 screens, almost 30% of the country’s 3,000 screens.

“It’s an incredible number, but on the other hand, requests to play the film have come from all over Italy,” said producer Elda Ferri. “Even tiny theaters in very small towns want to run it.”

Opening via Italian market leader Medusa Film, the $45 million production will unspool locally in a cut different from the international version being readied by Miramax for U.S. release in December.

Ferri says one Neapolitan exhib, whose theater has been closed for 20 years, contacted Medusa and offered to reopen if the distrib will give him a print.

Out of the picture

Benigni is keeping a low profile during the run-up to the release — his first since 1997’s multiple-Oscar winner “Life Is Beautiful,” the highest-grossing Italian production.

But interviews with supporting players Kim Rossi Stuart, Carlo Giuffre, Peppe Barra, Alessandro Bergonzoni and Luis Molteni as well as co-scripter Vincenzo Cerami and composer Nicola Piovani have helped fuel national interest.

Despite maximum saturation in Italy, residents of the tiny hamlet of Collodi in Tuscany — named for “Pinocchio” author Carlo Collodi — will have to travel to see the film. The village has no cinema.

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