ROME — Tarak Ben Ammar is making moves to become a prominent Italo film player.
The Franco-Tunisian film producer and dealmaker — topper of Paris-based Quinta Communications and board member of the Weinstein Co. — is in negotiations to gain control of Rome’s Eagle Pictures, a distrib of mainly Hollywood genre pics such as Sandra Bullock starrer “Premonition” but also of Italian titles that it co-produces.
Ben Ammar has long been active in Italy, where he is an associate of Silvio Berlusconi and adviser to Rupert Murdoch, as well as a board member of leading merchant bank Mediobanca, and holds a 24% stake in TV production company Lux Vide, maker of mega skein “War and Peace.”
Now Ben Ammar is close to gaining an Italo theatrical distribution outlet by either acquiring the controlling stake held in Eagle by founders Ciro and Stefano Dammicco, who jointly hold 38%, or by buying smaller stakes from other partners, which include Milan’s Interbanca, according to Italian financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore.
Eagle, which entered Italy’s tough theatrical market six years ago, is the fourth-biggest among the country’s local distribs, with a 5% market share so far this year. While genre titles have been Eagle’s main staple, the company with close ties to Hollywood’s indies has gone against Italy’s TV-backed giants Medusa and RAI Cinema with a wide range of titles, including Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” its top-grossing release to date. Ben Ammar distributed that pic in France.
Calls to Eagle Pictures in Rome and Ben Ammar in Paris were not returned late Monday.