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Italian Producers Arturo Paglia, Isabella Cocuzza Risk Their Own Cash Films With Global Prospects

In Italy, where local movies are increasingly sagging at the box office, Arturo Paglia and Isabella Cocuzza represent something new -— young producers scoring solid returns with movies that can travel. But even more impressive: They’re willing to risk their own money on the projects.

It’s a novel vision for Italy, where producers typically mount movies by assembling outside financing, and then pocket only peanuts beyond a producer’s fee.

Latest in the pipeline of Paglia and Cocuzza’s Rome-based Paco Cinematografica single is Giuseppe Tornatore’s English-language cross-generational romancer “The Correspondence,” toplining Jeremy Irons and Olga Kurylenko, which started shooting March 30 in Northern Italy.

“Correspondence” marks the producers’ second English-lingo Tornatore pic, following “The Best Offer,” the 2013 thriller starring Geoffrey Rush, which grossed $13 million in Italy via Warner Bros. and was sold globally by uMedia.  “Offer” repped a major comeback for the “Cinema Paradiso” helmer, whose misguided $35 million Sicilian epic “Baaria” had flopped in 2009.

“Giuseppe had international ideas, but he was shooting most of them in Italian,” says Paglia, who invested nearly $4 million in profits from Paco’s previous pics to finance the bulk of “Offer,” rather than seek co-production partners. That choice paid off.

“Our financial model (involves us holding) onto the rights, because if you keep all rights, in the end, you get a nice payday,” Paglia says. Adds Cocuzza: “We feel a sense of parenting toward our projects.”

Paglia and Cocuzza started Paco in 2003, putting their apartment up for collateral. They scored their first breakout hit in 2010 with road movie “Basilicata Coast to Coast,” about a pop band, helmed by character actor Rocco Papaleo in his directorial debut. The film opened on 30 screens and expanded to 130 within a week. Since then, says Paglia, “All our profits from one film go straight into the next one.”

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