Fox Searchlight Piracy Fears Spoiling The Fun For Paolo Sorrentino’s More Discerning Italian Fans

The current release in Italy of Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth” is drawing ire with discerning Italo auds after the pic made a splash with global cinephiles in Cannes.

Italian movie buffs are up in arms against the odd fact that Paolo Sorrentino’s Michael Caine-starrer, which is shot in English, is on release across Italy only in a version dubbed into Italian. They are being prevented from seeing the original version due to piracy concerns.

Gag on the hot pic being seen in Italy’s movie theaters the way it was shot is ostensibly due to a diktat imposed by Fox Searchlight when it recently acquired North American rights from French sales company Pathe.

“There are plenty of you — and that makes us glad — who are asking where they can see the film in original language,” noted the film’s production shingle, Indigo Films, in a statement.

“Unfortunately, our U.S. distributor, Fox Searchlight, asked us not to release prints in original language due to the enormous piracy problems in our country,” it said.

“We are really sorry but we did not have any alternatives. All the other countries where the film will be released in original language, including France, will wait for the U.S. release, expected in September. If, as we hope, the film will have long legs, the few copies in original language (in Rome, Milan, and Florence) that our market allows will be released at that time,” the Indigo statement concluded.

Producers on “Youth” are Nicola Giuliano, Francesca Cima and Carlotta Calori.

There was no immediate comment from Fox Searchlight.

Italy has long been on the U.S. government’s watch list of countries where film piracy is worst.

“Youth,” which has split Italian critics, went out in Italy on May 20, date-and-date with its Cannes world preem, released by Medusa on a robust 441 screens. It shot immediately to No. 1 at the Italian box office with a $210,000 day-one take.

“I can’t believe it, all those screens, and not one of them is showing the film in original language,” a disgruntled Sorrentino fan bemoaned on Medusa’s Facebook page.

“It’s really an undeserved punishment for Italian audiences,” lamented Italian writer Christian Raimo in his minima&moralia blog.

Unlike French cinemagoers, Italians historically tend to prefer dubbed versions of foreign films, though this is slowly changing as more people in urban areas opt for original language versions of foreign movies when given a chance. As for films by Italian directors shot in English, they are somewhat of a novelty and a perfect opportunity to get more Italian moviegoers to elevate their tastes beyond dubbed pics.

In “Youth” Caine stars as a retired orchestra conductor vacationing in an Alpine resort when he receives an invitation to perform for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. Paul Dano portrays a film director also staying at the resort. Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz (pictured), Jane Fonda and Romanian model Madalina Ghenea also star.

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