Murdoch feevee will fund Italo pic prod’n

Sky to buy pix that sell over 25,000 ducats in theatrical runs

ROME — Rupert Murdoch-backed paybox Sky Italia will invest e46 million ($56 million) in Italian film production over two years, acquiring the rights to numerous pics for its 10 movie channels.

Execs for the paybox signed the agreement with the National Union for Film Producers (UNPF), the Assn. for Independent Producers (API) and Anica, the local motion pictures org, in the presence of Cultural Heritage Minister Giuliano Urbani in Rome on Wednesday.

Sky will buy rights to homegrown pictures that sell more than 25,000 tickets in theatrical runs. About half the 60 local pics released per year notch such sales. Prices will range from $92,000 for films that sell 25,000 tickets to a maximum of $2.2 million for those that sell more than 4 million ducats.

Films with lower viewership still may be acquired by the paybox, assuring niche films get a slot on Sky’s digital pay TV packages.

Sky Italia will pay a minimum of $245,000 on any films it pre-buys.

UNPF prexy producer Aurelio de Laurentiis called the agreement a “serious instrument for independent producers.”

Pact with Sky sees the principal producers orgs working together for the first time since the Telepiu crisis halted TV support for local cinema production a few years back.

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