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Italian Exhibitors Angry Over Simultaneous Theatrical and Netflix Release of Venice Title

Italy’s exhibitors are up in arms over the day-and-date release, on Netflix and in Italian theaters, of at least one movie slated to launch at the Venice Film Festival.

The country’s two exhibitors’ organizations, ANEC (National Assn. of Cinema Exhibitors) and ANEM (National Assn. of Multiplex Exhibitors), have issued a joint statement lashing out against Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera and vowing to fight simultaneous releases in Italy, even though, unlike in France, there is no law in Italy against this. 

While not specifically mentioned in the statement, the bone of contention is Venice Horizons opener “Sulla Mia Pelle” (which translates as “On My Skin”). The Italian police-brutality drama is set to play in several Italian cinemas via distributor Lucky Red on Sept. 12 – the same day it will be made available to Netflix subscribers around the world, including Italy. The film is one of six Netflix titles tapped for the upcoming Venice fest.

Barbera told Variety last week he was pleased that Lucky Red chief Andrea Occhipinti, who heads Italy’s distributors’ association, was able to negotiate a deal with Netflix allowing “Sulla Mia Pelle” to play in Italian movie theaters. However, Barbera has repeatedly said it is not up to a festival director to get involved in distribution issues.

Netflix was conspicuously absent from this year’s Cannes Film Festival owing to a dispute over a new requirement that films in competition there must be released theatrically in France, where there is a very long, statutory lag between theatrical and other types of play, including on streaming platforms such as Netflix. By contrast, windowing in Italy has been regulated by a gentlemen’s agreement of sorts, rather than by law. This has meant that, with a few exceptions, there has been a window of at least a few months in place.

Occhipinti, who is expected to release “Sulla Mia Pelle” in select movie theaters that are willing to break with the trade associations, told newspaper La Repubblica that the Italian industry needs to collectively “face the windows issue.”

“There is a changing reality,” he said. “There are new players, a new modality of seeing movies….We want to prove that there is an audience that wants to see movies in theaters.”

Occhipinti added that theatrical and online play “are different and compatible.”

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