Netflix and Mediaset on Tuesday in Rome announced details of an alliance in Italy under which they will jointly produce seven Italian-language feature films, a move that marks the U.S. streaming giant’s biggest Italian content deal to date.
Five of the films that Netflix will produce in tandem with Italy’s top private generalist broadcaster were announced. They are being made by prominent Italian indie producers such as Indigo Film (“The Great Beauty”) and Lucky Red, with which Netflix teamed up on last year’s Venice title “On My Skin.” All films are to be helmed by young up-and-coming directors.
The films comprise two men’s soccer-related titles, one of which about Roberto Baggio, one of the greatest Italian players of all time, to be directed by female helmer Letizia Lamartire. Lamartire’s comedy, “We’ll Be Young and Beautiful,” about a mother-and-son pop band, was in the Venice Critics’ Week in 2018. There are also several romancers, one of which titled “L’Ultimo Paradiso” toplines hearttrhob Riccardo Scamarcio (“Loro”) who is also producing. Scamarcio recently toplined Netflix Italian original film “The Ruthless,” about a Milanese gangster, and also powerfully played a lead role in Ginevra Elkann’s “Magari” which opened Locarno this year.
“We will be working with new professionals who up until now have not had the opportunity to tell their stories to the world,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings during a press conference in Rome’s national modern art museum.
Netflix’s deal with Mediaset in Italy comes as the top Italian generalist broadcaster is expanding its scope by moving its base to Amsterdam – where Netflix also has its European headquarters – to set up a pan-European media company called MediaForEurope. The new Mediaset outfit would operate in Italy, Spain and Germany in an effort to gain more scale to compete with big global players, like Netflix, that are disrupting the market.
Hastings at the press conference called Mediaset and Netflix “complementary.” Mediaset chief of content Alessandro Salem said the partnership could extend to Spain, where Mediaset is also the top commercial linear broadcaster.
The seven films will go out globally on Netflix as Netflix originals starting in 2020. Twelve months later they will air exclusively on Mediaset’s linear channels.
The twelve-month window between streaming date and the films’ playdates on linear TV in Italy is half the time-length compared with similar deals that Netflix has with other generalist broadcasters around the world, Netflix noted in a statement.
Since Netflix entered the Italian market in 2015, it has steadily gained ground in terms of subscriptions, which are expected to reach 2 million by the end of 2019, according to independent analyst Ovum.
Hastings also said that Netflix will be opening an office in Italy and that when they do so they will of course be paying taxes in Italy like any other Italian business. He did not specify when that will happen.
The streaming giant, which currently does not have offices or other sort of physical Italian presence, has recently come under fiscal scrutiny in the country. Last week news broke that prosecutors in Milan had opened a preliminary probe of the company on the basis that the computer servers and cables it uses constitute a digital infrastructure that could have made their revenues taxable under Italian law. Going forward when Netflix opens an Italian office any fiscal issues of that nature will be solved.