‘Sticks’ set for Italian remake

U.S. version to star Will Smith

Gallic megahit “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis” (Welcome to the Sticks) is set for an Italian-language remake, the second redo for the hicks-in-the-sticks laffer following the one being shepherded Stateside by Will Smith for Warner Bros.

Italy’s top producer/distributor Medusa is financing the remake of the heart-warmer about a postal worker forced to relocate to a small town in the north where he can’t understand the patois, the food or the many quirks.

Riccardo Tozzi’s Cattleya will produce for Medusa next year, Medusa managing director Giampaolo Letta said. No director or cast is yet attached.

Medusa also has local rights to Pathe’s Dany Boon-directed “Ch’tis” original, which will bow at Italian cinemas this fall after having grossed more than $193 million in France, on a par with “Titanic.”

Besides France, “Ch’tis” has been released in the U.K., Belgium and Switzerland to nowhere near its local success level.

Other hot titles on Medusa’s slate, unveiled Monday, include the Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man,” Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” and Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Bruno.”

Letta said Medusa holds a 17% market share, with some $110 million in box office returns for this year through June. Italo titles account for 39% of Medusa’s grosses during this period. The Silvio Berlusconi-owned minimajor dominated the Italo market in 2007 with a 17% market share, bringing in $173 million.

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