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DeAgostini buys Italian distributor

Founders Cicutto and Musini hand over Mikado

ROME — Mikado, the Italo arthouse shingle run for the past 25 years by founding partners Roberto Cicutto and Luigi Musini, has been sold to publisher Gruppo DeAgostini, which will take over its management.

Besides underscoring the tough climate for smaller Italo indie players, move marks an expanded role for DeAgostini in Italy’s entertainment industry, where the multimedia group is said to be in talks to buy TV produc-tion outfit Magnolia, which serves up “Celebrity Survivor” to Italians.

Cicutto and Musini are known on the international festival circuit as highly competent movie aficionados. They brought titles such as Zhang Yimou’s “Raise the Red Lantern” to Italo screens, along with works by many other international arthouse darlings, including Abbas Kiarostami and Jane Campion, and by local helmers Silvio Soldini and Mario Monicelli.

The pair will continue to be active as producers but have relinquished all activities within Mikado. They sold a 51% stake of Mikado to DeAgostini in 2000 but held on to their management roles.

Since then, despite a cash infusion, Mikado mostly waned, never hitting a winning streak. One of its most recent disappointments is Zhang’s “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles.”

DeAgostini, which operates in 30 countries, is partnered in Spain with Grupo Planeta under its DeAPlaneta joint venture which, in addition to film production and distribution, holds a 43% stake in the Antena 3 web.

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