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‘Roma’ to Get Limited Theatrical Release in Italy

Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” will go out theatrically in Italy on about 50 screens as a three-day event release early next month before the film becomes available globally on Netflix.

Italy’s Cineteca di Bologna, known internationally mostly as a film archive and preservation body, has announced that its boutique distribution arm will handle the release of “Roma.” The move comes despite a call by several Italian art-house cinema organizations for exhibitors not to screen “Roma,” which launched in September at the Venice Film Festival and won the Golden Lion.

Though small, the “Roma” event release in Italy will cover all major cities, a representative for Cineteca di Bologna distribution said. It will screen on Dec. 3, 4 and 5, before its appearance on Netflix on Dec. 14.

The Italian “Roma” release is part of Netflix’s push for its biggest theatrical outing to date. The U.S. rollout started in New York and Los Angeles on Nov. 21. The film will open in London on Nov. 29, and is expected to be playing on screens in more than 30 countries on Dec. 5, according to Netflix.

Although Cineteca di Bologna has about 50 screens lined up for “Roma,” it’s not yet known which exhibitors have signed up. The Cineteca on Friday did not comment on its decision to release “Roma” theatrically or on the call for exhibitors to boycott Roma.

Cineteca di Bologna chief Gian Luigi Farinelli is known as an ardent cinephile. His organization runs the film restoration lab L’Immagine Ritrovata, whose work is eagerly commissioned by major classic-movie players in Europe such as Pathe and Studiocanal. Its archives hold a total of more than 18,000 titles. Bologna’s Il Cinema Ritrovato festival, dedicated to revival and retrospective programming, is an annual film-lovers’ mecca.

Netflix recently became a big disruptor in Italy when it launched half a dozen movies in Venice. Art-house cinema organizations such as Fice, which controls 450 out of Italy’s 2,800 screens, blasted the festival for including Netflix movies in competition, unlike Cannes.

After the fest, competition title “On My Skin,” a local police-brutality drama, was released simultaneously online by Netflix and in 80 Italian theaters via distributor Lucky Red. That day-and-date release outraged other Italian distributors, causing Lucky Red boss Andrea Occhipinti to resign as head of the national distributors’ association in September.

His successor, Luigi Lonigro, chief of RAI Cinema’s 01 Distributions unit, worked with other industry representatives to draft new rules on release windows, which were unveiled last week. Italy will now enshrine into law the informal 105-day window between a film’s first theatrical screening and its availability on other platforms. Limited-release and under-performing titles can have even shorter lag periods – as little as 10 days. But this law will apply to Italian films only, and not to foreign product such as “Roma.”

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