ROME – Italy’s Leone Film Group, the company originally founded by spaghetti western master Sergio Leone, made a positive debut on the Milan stock market Wednesday with an IPO geared towards becoming a bigger distributor of high-profile Hollywood product in Italy, nearly one year after inking an Italo output deal with DreamWorks.
Now headed by Leone’s children, Andrea and Raffaella, Leone Films bowed on Milan’s small-cap Aim market about two points above its target price, with shares selling just under 5 Euros ($6.87) each.
The Leone heirs are selling a 25% stake in the Rome-based company. They have already raised Euros 16.3 million ($22 million), roughly 70% from Italian investors and 30% from international ones, according to Leone.
LFG had Euros 6.7 million ($9.2 million) in revenue in 2012.
Now the main goal is to become a “bigger bridgehead between Italy and Hollywood, both as distributors and co-producers,” Leone told Variety.
Leone Film Group’s recently released titles include “Rush” and “The Fifth Estate,” which pubcaster RAI’s 01 Distribuzione released in Italy. Coming up is “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which 01 will release in Italy on January 23, followed by “Delivery Man,” Aaaron Paul-starrer “Need for Speed,” and sci-fier “Transcendance,” toplining Johnny Depp, from Alcon Entertainment.
RAI also purchased TV rights to most of these pics from Leone Film which is effectively acting as their agent in Hollywood.
On the production side Leone Films is among backers of Gabriele Muccino’s Russell Crowe starrer “Fathers and Daughters,” being produced by Craig J. Flores and Nicolas Chartier of Voltage and Sherryl Clark, with plans to start shooting in March or April in Pittsburgh, Leone said.
The move marks a rare case of an Italian film company going public and also underscores changes underway in Italy’s distribution landscape following the downsizing this year of Silvio Berlusconi’s Medusa film unit.
Leone’s heirs, who entered the Italo distribution arena in 2000, now have a 400 title library that includes all Italo rights to “Point Break,” Traffic,” and Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” besides most of Sergio Leone’s works which they have bought back, since Leone’s death in 1989.
In 2012 in Cannes they world-preemed the directors’ cut of Leone’s Gangster epic “Once Upon a Time in America,” restored by Bologna’s Cinematheque in collaboration with Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation and Gucci.
That long-gestating restoration project was shepherded by Andrea and Raffaella Leone after they acquired Italian rights to “Once Upon a Time” from Arnon Milchan’s New Regency.
LFG distributes New Regency TV product in Italy.