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Italy’s indie film distributors are increasingly making “go mainstream” their mantra. Most have been missing out on the country’s rise in admissions due to an increased appetite for local comedies, such as “Night Before Exams — Today.” Plus, an increase in summer releases, with most Hollywood blockbusters bowing in sync with the rest of the globe, has added pressure.

The year is expected to see an admissions rise to 120 million, up from 107 million in 2006.

Medusa
Topper:
Giampaolo Letta, managing director
B.O.: $82 million
Top pic: “The Pursuit of Happyness”
In brief: Silvio Berlusconi’s film outfit. Medusa has the financial firepower to rapidly rise to the top of the local heap and spar with the majors, consistently placing among the country’s top three distribs since 2000. Recently absorbed by broadcaster Mediaset, Medusa has a mean marketing machine and a wide range of high-profile Hollywood titles on its slate, such as Sasha Baron Cohen’s pricey “Bruno”; the Coen brothers’ “Burn After Reading,” with Brad Pitt and George Clooney; and Barry Levinson comedy “What Just Happened?” Medusa is going to be cherry-picking product, as it has no mandate to fill Mediaset slots. (The TV outfit just closed major output deals with Warner Bros. and Universal.)

RAI Cinema
Topper:
Caterina D’Amico, managing director
B.O.: $57 million
Top pic: “Night Before Exams — Today”
In brief: Pubcaster RAI’s film production and theatrical distribution (via its 01 Distribution) division is a staunch supporter of Italian and European cinema. It recently did well with Germany’s “The Lives of Others.” Still, it’s been known to buy a substantial share of A-list Hollywood product. But under new topper Caterina D’Amico, coin for U.S. goods is likely to shrink a bit, as RAI as a whole is becoming more Eurocentric. That said, U.S. pics with name casts, including romantic comedies, are still on their radar. Upcoming releases include “The Nanny Diaries.”

Filmauro
Topper:
Aurelio De Laurentiis
B.O.: $47 million
Top pic: “Manual of Love 2”
In brief: De Laurentiis is known for making money with raunchy Italian Christmas comedies, but he also has a knack for hitting the jackpot with more sophisticated local fare and for expertly handling select high-profile international titles. Upcoming on Filmauro’s lineup are Woody Allen’s “Cassandra Crossing” and Marc Forster’s “The Kite Runner.”

Eagle Pictures
Topper:
Stefano Dammicco, CEO
B.O.: $25.5 million
Top pic: “Apocalypto”
In brief: Genre pics such as chiller “Premonition” are Eagle’s bread and butter, but it also handles more arty indie fare such as “The Illusionist” and “The Hoax,” toplining Richard Gere. Lately it has gone into local production as well, but still has an appetite for star-driven midrange titles from Hollywood.

Moviemax
Topper:
Guglielmo Marchetti, CEO
B.O.: $12.5 million
Top pic: “Bridge to Terabithia”
In brief: Founded in 2003, Moviemax is the new kid on the block. It has rapidly gained prominence by mining the market for a wide array of pics. Pickups include titles that others may have passed on, such as “Hairspray,” which it recently released successfully despite the fact musicals are considered a tough sell in Italy. “Factory Girl” is among other upcoming releases.

Note: 2007 B.O. through Sept. 30