Berlinale: Pre-Sales Kick Off on ‘Freaks Out,’ Gabriele Mainetti’s Follow-Up to ‘They Call Me Jeeg’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Gabriele MainettiArrivals, Day 9, 74th Venice
Maria Laura Antonelli/REX/Shutterstock

Italian director Gabriele Mainetti, who made a splash with offbeat superhero movie “They Call Me Jeeg,” is set to go back behind the camera in March on “Freaks Out,” another Rome-set genre-bender. Pre-sales of the new pic are being jointly launched at the European Film Market by Italy’s Rai Com and True Colours.

Mainetti’s “Jeeg,” a first feature about a two-bit criminal loser who stumbles upon his superpowers and learns to care about humanity, became Italy’s 2016 sleeper hit, pulling in 1 million admissions locally. It then went to dozens of festivals and sold widely internationally, including to distributor Uncork’d Entertainment in the U.S.

Mainetti had struggled to find financing for “Jeeg,” which riffs on formulaic Hollywood franchises and on a 1970 Japanese cartoon series. But its success turned him into an Italian industry darling who dominated Italy’s David di Donatello Awards in 2016. He was among Variety’s 10 Europeans to Watch at last year’s Berlinale.

Mainetti is keeping the plot of “Freaks Out” under wraps, except to say that it will be an ensemble film in which he and his regular screenwriter, Nicola Guaglianone, have mashed up even more genres than in “Jeeg.” Similar to that film, “Freaks Out” will incorporate a theme of sexual abuse and will feature a strong, fiercely independent female character.

The cast of “Freaks Out,” which is generating buzz in Italy even before shooting starts, has not been announced yet. The film is being produced by Andrea Occhipinti’s Lucky Red in tandem with Mainetti’s Goon Films, with financing from Italy’s Rai Cinema and Belgium’s Gap Finders. Lucky Red will release in Italy.

Rai Com and True Colours plan to split territories on international sales. Rai Com is pubcaster Rai’s sales arm. True Colours is jointly owned by Lucky Red and Indigo Films.