French comedy has conquered continental Europe: Think “Welcome to the Sticks,” “The Intouchables,” “Serial (Bad) Weddings,” going forward, most likely “La Famille Belier.”
Now Italy is joining the charge. Having just announced its acquisition of world sales rights to Anne Fontaine’s WWII drama “Agnus Dei,” Paris-based sales company Films Distribution has added a second title to its building Berlinale slate: “Il Nome Del Figlio” (An Italian Name), from Francesca Archibugi, one of Italy’s best-known distaff directors with a now near 30-year-career (“Mignon Has Gone Away,” “Flying Lessons,” “A Question of the Heart”).
Films Distribution will start selling the movie at next week’s European Film Market (EFM).
Produced by Indiana Production and producer-distributor Lucky Red, a key company on Italy’s indie landscape, “Name” is an Italian makeover of French comedy breakout “What’s In a Name?” from Alexandre Patelliere and Mathieu Delaporte which grossed 3,34 million tjckets for Pathe Distribution in France, taking an around $25 million box office gross.
The Italian version stars Alessandro Gassman (“Quiet Chaos”) and Micaela Ramazzotti (“The First Beautiful Thing”) as his pregnant partner who invites around another couple, played by Valeria Golino (“Rain Man,” “Frida”) and Luigi Lo Cascio (“The Best of Youth”) plus an eccentric musician. Dinner conversation turns to the baby’s name that proves, unexpectedly, a highly explosive subject.
Opening for Andrea Occhipinti’s Lucky Red on 311 screens Jan.22, “An Italian Name” placed fifth in Italian box office rankings, grossing a respectable first weekend €1.1 million ($1.2 million), a running up the highest per-screen average – €3,592 ($4,023) – of the frame.
“With ‘An Italian Name,’ we are bringing back to the market
Italian comedy in its greatest tradition,” said Films Distribution co-founder Nicolas Brigaud-Robert. “The film is in the footsteps of De Sica’s or Dino Risi’s movies. It’s a true breath of fresh air. And we know our buyers are looking for lighter fare these days.”
Occhipinti and Indiana Production’s Fabrizio Donvito added: “Italian Cinema is finally taking back center stage worldwide, and we are very proud to share Film Distribution’s enthusiasm for the hilarious, sharp and sophisticated new Archibugi film, that deals with friendship, family, and conviviality, that is so Italian and universal at the same time.”
In international market terms, three years might seem a short time to follow up the original, sold abroad by Pathe. But 2010 comedy “Benvenuti al sud,” a remake of Dany Boon’s 2008 “Welcome to the Sticks,” not only put in a barnstorming performance in Italy, but sold abroad, grossing figures which would be very good by average art film standards, such as €1.45 million ($1.6 million) in Spain.
Nick Vivarelli contributed to this report