International Exec You Should Know: Leone Film Group’s Raffaella Leone

In January, when Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” launched in Italy at a special venue at Rome’s Cinecitta Studios equipped with a 70mm projector, Raffaella Leone had reason to be particularly proud.

Leone Film Group, the company founded in 1989 by spaghetti Western master Sergio Leone and now run by his children, Raffaella and Andrea, is the Italian co-distributor of the film, shot in Ultra Panavision. “It has a special meaning for us,” she says. “It takes us back to our passion for a certain type of cinema.” Of course Tarantino is a huge fan of her father.

The Leone Group is changing the dynamics of Italian theatrical distribution. After signing an Italo output deal with DreamWorks less than three years ago that propelled its expansion, it has stepped into a theatrical distribution gap that opened when Silvio Berlusconi-owned Medusa and pubcaster RAI’s Rai Cinema, both tied to broadcasters, began to focus more on TV dramas and local movies.

“Three or four years ago, we realized something was changing. Top-tier production companies in Hollywood were sending us their lineups.”
Raffaella Leone

Up until 2012, Leone mainly had been distributing movies for TV. Then “three or four years ago, we realized something was changing,” she recounts. “Top-tier production companies in Hollywood were sending us their lineups, and asking if we were interested.” Swiftly following the DreamWorks deal, the Leones floated the company on the Milan stock market in December 2013. Soon after that came multiyear agreements with Lionsgate and the Weinstein Co.

The Leone Group is currently teamed with Rai Cinema’s 01 Distribution as well as Medusa and Eagle Pictures as co-distributors on different packages of titles, sharing costs and revenues.

Outside of these larger deals, Leone cherry-picks what’s hot on the market. In Berlin it picked up “Suburbicon,” the upcoming George Clooney-directed black comedy sold by Bloom. The company also has gone into production, acquiring local shingle Lotus Prod., which made recent hit comedy “Perfect Strangers.” Upcoming features by prominent local helmers Paolo
Virzi and Giuseppe Tornatore are in the pipeline. And Leone will be branching out into high-end TV with “I Beati Paoli,” a Mafia origins skein conceived by Tornatore, who will
direct the first episode.

Leone recently serviced the Rome shoot of Lionsgate’s Keanu Reeves-starrer “John Wick 2,” then pacted with Cinecitta Studios to jointly service Hollywood productions. She worked hard to lure “Wick 2” to Cinecitta. “My father became who he was partly because at the time, they shot international movies in Italy,” she says. Her aim now: “to co-produce with Americans and Europeans, to give Italian directors more access to the international market.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • AMC theater

    AMC Entertainment Introducing On-Demand Movie Service

    AMC Entertainment will introduce an online video store in the United States on Tuesday. Adam Aron, AMC’s president and chief executive, said that the AMC Theaters On Demand will offer about 2,000 films for sale or rent after their theatrical runs — much like Amazon or iTunes. Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony and Paramount have [...]

  • Scarlett Johansson poses for photographers upon

    Scarlett Johansson 'Pushing' for All-Women Marvel Movie

    After the epic battle scene in “Avengers: Endgame” depicted the female superheroes uniting to protect Spider-Man from Thanos, Marvel fans started wondering if they’ll ever see the women unite for a standalone movie. “Captain Marvel” star Brie Larson generated even more buzz when she told Variety that she and other female co-stars have approached Marvel [...]

  • Ivana Lombardi Netflix

    Annapurna Film Head Ivana Lombardi Named Director of Indies at Netflix (EXCLUSIVE)

    Annapurna Pictures president of film Ivana Lombardi is moving across town to Netflix, after almost a year in her role at Megan Ellison’s company. As of Nov. 6, Lombardi will serve as director of independent films at the streamer. She will report directly to Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s vice president of independent film and documentary features. [...]

  • Zoe Kravitz 'Big Little Lies' TV

    Zoe Kravitz to Play Catwoman in 'The Batman'

    “Big Little Lies” star Zoe Kravitz has been tapped to play Catwoman, the antiheroine and sometime love interest of the Caped Crusader, in Matt Reeves’ upcoming “The Batman.” Kravitz will star opposite Robert Pattinson as Batman. Pre-production on the Warner Bros.-DC Comics pic is expected to start this summer. No official start date has been [...]

  • Hadley Robinson Amy Poehler

    'Little Women' Actress Hadley Robinson to Star in Amy Poehler's 'Moxie'

    “Utopia” and “Little Women” actress Hadley Robinson has been tapped to star in Amy Poehler’s next directorial effort “Moxie.” Lauren Tsai is also on board to co-star in the Netflix movie. “Moxie” follows a teenage girl (Robinson) from a small town who is inspired by her mother’s Riot Girl past and starts a feminist revolution [...]

  • Samara Weaving

    'G.I. Joe' Spinoff 'Snake Eyes' Adds 'Ready or Not's' Samara Weaving

    Samara Weaving will join Henry Golding in the “G.I. Joe” spinoff, “Snake Eyes.” Haruka Abe, Ursula Corbero, Iko Uwais and Andrew Koji have also boarded the Paramount, Skydance and AllSpark movie. “The Captain” director Robert Schwentke is helming and Brian Goldner is producing. Evan Spiliotopoulos, who wrote “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Huntsman: Winter’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content