Italian distribution company Adler Entertainment is making its AFM debut with ambitious plans to release between 15 and 18 titles a year, just as the country’s movie market is in flux following a drastic downsizing of Silvio Berlusconi’s Medusa film unit.

Adler, which means Eagle in German, is co-headed by former Eagle Pictures co-founders Stefano Dammicco and Pete Maggi, who have joined forces with young Italo entrepreneur Marco Colombo.

Unlike Eagle, which was purchased by Franco Tunisian entrepreneur Tarak Ben Ammar in 2007 after Italo banks claimed it had become financially overexposed, Adler is financed by private capital.“Italy is a very strange market, full of opportunity right now,” says Dammicco, noting that neither the majors nor anyone else has stepped in to fill the gap left by Medusa since the Italo box office has been sagging partly due to the country’s economic crisis. That, in turn, has caused pic prices for the Italian market to drop.

Adler has a large inhouse Web marketing unit, called Smart Web. It has been working intensely on their first release, Paul Schrader’s low-budget Lindsay Lohan starrer “The Canyons,” which the distrib will launch in Italy on a relatively wide 160 screens Nov. 14 following a massive viral campaign that they say has generated some 2.5 million hits on the pic’s local Facebook page.

Next up for Adler is Relativity’s toon “Free Birds,” (pictured) which will fly Nov. 28.

Also on the Adler slate are David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars,” acquired from eOne; Terrence Malick’s “Knight of Cups” and Robert De Niro-Meryl Streep starrer “The Good House,” both from FilmNation; and Lionsgate’s “Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft,” “Solace,” with Anthony Hopkins, “Tracers,” and Ridley Scott’s “Child 44.”

“I’ve never had so many movies with such big names,” boasts Dammicco, who says he is seeking a wide range of product, as his current slate attests.

Adler Entertainment was unveiled to the Italo film biz shortly before AFM during a Rome gala presentation attended by Lionsgate’s Patrick Wachsberger, Relativity Media’s Camela Galano and FilmNation’s Glen Basner.

“Without the Americans it would not have been possible,” Dammicco enthuses. “They trusted me, and I am proud!”