IFFAM: Gianni Nunnari Talks Rights, Remakes and Real Life Heroes

Celebrated Hollywood producer, Gianni Nunnari delivered a master class in Macau that mixed up trips down memory lane with tips about rights and remakes.

“My superhero movies are stories with real heroes, such as Julius Caesar and Napoleon,” said Nunnari, who heads Hollywood Gang, and whose credits include “Alexander,” “300”  and the upcoming historical movie “Silence,” by Martin Scorsese. “Then we use all the available modern technologies to bring them to life.”

He was speaking on stage at the International Film Festival & Awards Macau, with former Fortissimo Films chairman Michael Werner and Bona Films Group COO Jeffrey Chan.

Nunnari charted the good old days in his native Italy. In Rome he learned aspects of the film business from his father, before selling unofficial companion piece pictures starring the likes of Bruce Le and Bruce Li at the wheeler-dealer Mifed rights market in  Milan.

He later made the transition to Hollywood by working with some of the iconic producers of 1990s films Arnon Milchan, Mario Kassar and Andy Vajna.

Brad Pitt-starring “Se7en” was Nunnari’s calling card, and an example of Nunnari’s preference for working with lesser-known talent. After an unhappy episode with “Alien 3,” director, David Fincher was considered less bankable than he is today.

“I’m obliged to work with new talent. There are few (major) stars. And they are unavailable. And I need to wait. But I don’t like to wait. I’m impatient,” Nunnari said. “If I have a good script and the person behind the camera is determined enough I become his best partner.”

With Chan, who in 2002 was head of sales at Media Asia, Nunnari spoke of Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning film “The Departed,” which was derived from Hong Kong cop thriller “Infernal Affairs.” It was cited by the trio as a rare instance of a remake matching the quality of the underlying original film.

Werner suggested that there are fewer remake deals these days and more films being structured as co-productions.

“One of the reasons for that is to with the Chinese quota system,” said Chan. “If you make the film as a co-production, it can be treated as a local film, rather than as an import.”

“Infernal Affairs,” with its plot lines about spying, gangs and corruption was not an easy sell to China. It only got a mainland China release after all three films in the trilogy had been completed.

“These days the original ‘Infernal Affairs’ would probably get into China with a few minor changes. While a remake on the scale of ‘The Departed’ could get in,” said Chan. “in a sense the system has become more flexible.”

Other changes may also be underfoot. “Ten years after we made ‘The Departed’ in 2006 the film market is completely different. The studios are so focused on their superhero movies that if we went to them today and told them that we had an idea for a cop movie, they would not listen,” said Nunnari.

One of Nunnari’s next movies is “The Domestics” which he described as both a romance and a “mini ‘Mad Max’.” Directed by first-timer Mike P. Nelson, it sees a husband and wife travel through a post-apocalyptic wasteland and emerge more in love than before their journey. It is set up at Orion Pictures and is shooting now.


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