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Leone Film Group’s Lotus Production shingle is setting up Lotus Factory, a new unit for high-profile genre projects out of Italy made for the international market.

These currently include a live action TV series in development on the origins of Santa Clause, for which Lotus chief Marco Belardi has recruited top U.S. talent: Oscar-nominated writer Jim Capobianco (“Ratatouille”) and Robert Lence (“Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” “Toy Story”).

“We are planning to make films of different genres from those that are usually produced in Italy,” Belardi told Variety, noting that Italy’s scripted content output is largely made up of “dramas, comedies and an occasional noir.”

For example, Italian film and TV content targeting family audiences is quite scarce, a gap Belardi is looking to fill with Lotus Factory. 

Belardi has recruited young Italian director Nicola Abbatangelo, who recently completed “The Land of Dreams,” an English-language movie musical set in 1920s New York, to serve as creative director of the new outfit.

Abbatangelo came up with the idea for the still-untitled Santa Clause origin story, which he is writing together with Fabio Guaglione (“Mine,” “True Love”) and Capobianco and Lence. Belardi said he wants to develop the Santa Clause origin project and make a pilot on his own before shopping it to streaming giants.

Another family-targeting project in development at Lotus Factory is animation feature “Fear Tales,” whose logline reads, “The adventures of the most fearful boy in the world and his greatest friend: fear itself.”

For this project, Belardi has recruited Brazil-based animator Sandro Cleuzo, whose work includes “Mary Poppins Returns” and whose studio produced the animation for Oscar-nominated Spanish film “Chico and Rita.”

Projects in earlier stages at Lotus Factory comprise a “dystopian trilogy,” and horror, thriller and action movie projects. The “factory” aspect pertains to Belardi’s intention to set up workshops where international talent can come to Italy and share their expertise. Meanwhile, the workshops can be used to scout up-and-coming Italian talent.

Meanwhile, Belardi’s Lotus Production unit, which has long been shepherding “Colt” — a previously announced English-language Western to be directed by Stefano Sollima (“Soldado”), based on a Sergio Leone concept — has teamed up with Lorenzo Mieli’s The Apartment, a Fremantle unit, to finance the high-end English-language pic.

Shooting is now set to start in January 2021 in Canada, Bulgaria and Italy, said Belardi, who is keeping casting details under wraps. Leone Film Group is owned and operated by Sergio Leone’s children Raffaella and Andrea. “Colt” takes its cue from the six-shooter packed by Clint Eastwood in “A Fistful of Dollars,” which becomes a narrative device as it is passes from owner to owner throughout the Old West.

Other projects in various stages in the Lotus Production pipeline include:

  •  A TV series for Sky Italia on Alfredo Rampi, an Italian child who in 1981 fell into an artesian well. His televised rescue attempt gripped the nation. Will start shooting in September.
  • A film for Netflix and Mediaset titled “Mio fratello, mia sorella,” directed by Roberto Capucci. Shooting is expected to start at the end of August.
  • A film directed by Paolo Costella and co-written with Paolo Genovese (“Perfect Strangers”) titled “Per tutta la vita.” Shooting is expected to start in September.
  • A new film by Paolo Genovese with an A-list Italian cast expected to start shooting in January 2021.
  • A previously announced Gabriele Muccino-directed TV series titled “A casa tutti bene” for Sky Italia, as well as the next feature by Muccino (“The Pursuit of Happiness”).
  • The next feature by Paolo Virzì (“Like Crazy”).