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Italian Movie Channel to Launch in U.S. via Amazon (EXCLUSIVE)

Italy’s Minerva Pictures is launching an SVOD channel dedicated to Italian cinema for the North American market using the Amazon Prime Video Direct program, in a move that breaks new ground and could provide an additional revenue stream for the Italian film industry.

After successfully launching a U.S. outpost called RaroVideo, Minerva Pictures is set to launch the streaming service, MovieItaly, in October in the U.S. and Canada. The Rome-based company boasts a vast vintage Italian cinema library with works ranging from Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Conformist” to horror master Mario Bava’s movies,

MovieItaly will use Amazon’s self-publishing service, which enables rights-holders to reach an audience by creating a channel on the Amazon Prime Video platform on a revenue-sharing basis.

Prime Video Direct has been used to launch niche movie channels by U.S. indies such as Samuel Goldwyn Films and by South Korea’s leading studio, CJ Entertainment. Minerva chief Gianluca Curti said his company will be the “first Europeans to launch an SVOD channel dedicated to a national cinematography in the North American market,” on Amazon’s platform or anywhere.

Minerva Pictures will actually be the first continental Europeans to do so, since Prime Video customers in the U.S. can already stream English-language content from BritBox which was created by the BBC and Itv and features British content.

MovieItaly will kick off in October with 100 mostly vintage titles mostly drawn from RaroVideo’s vault of classic, cult and horror films, spaghetti Westerns and experimental Italian movies. The service will add at least 10 new titles each month and will also feature extras and an Italian talent introducing a movie-of-the-month.

After launching the service in North America, Minerva hopes to expand to the U.K. by year’s end. “We will be catering to Italian cinema cinephiles who love art movies but also to second- and third-generation Italians [in the U.S.] who have a craving for genre, comedies and more lowbrow popular cinema,” Curti said.

He added that Minerva is in the process of closing non-exclusive SVOD deals with Italian cinema rights-holders in Italy and the U.S. to bring in more recent Italian feature films and documentaries.

To promote MovieItaly in the U.S., Minerva is planning to organize presentations and monthly screenings of Italian movies in a still-unspecified New York venue.

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