In February, “Mission: Impossible 7” was forced to halt production in Italy days before its planned shoot in Venice, as the country contended with one of the highest coronavirus death rates in Europe.
Cut to September. The Venice Film Festival is the first top-tier fest physically taking place, and Tom Cruise is expected back in the lagoon city later this month to resume shooting, according to multiple sources.
The Paramount production is getting logistical support from Rome’s Cinecittà Studios, where “Mission: Impossible 7” currently has an operational office. And, barring complications, Cinecittà is gearing up for a boom.
At the iconic – and recently revamped – facilities outside the Italian capital, cameras resumed rolling in early July on high-end British TV series “Domina,” the Sky original looking at power of women in Ancient Rome, which had shut down production in early March.
This lavish period piece co-produced by Sky Studios with the U.K.’s Fifty Fathoms – and executive produced by Italy’s ITV-owned Cattleya – has special significance since “it’s a British production that’s returned to Rome (after lockdown),” says Cinecittà business development exec Andrea Spagna. He notes that “they had the courage to come and prove the effectiveness of Italian (Covid-19) safety protocols.” According to Spagna “Domina” was the first big international production to start up again in Europe after the coronavirus crisis.
Meanwhile Italian movies currently shooting at Cinecittà comprise Paolo Taviani’s Pirandello adaptation “Leonora addio”; Pupi Avati’s bittersweet romancer “Lei mi parla ancora”; and Neri Parenti’s Christmas comedy “Christmas on Mars.”
“There is strong demand for studio space and we hope this will bring us to 100% occupancy in the next few months,” says Cinecittà, head of production Pino D’Arino. who expects the bulk of the studio’s upcoming bookings to be international productions.
Italian line producer Marco Valerio Pugini (“6 Underground”) notes that after being the first European country to shut down productions due to Covid-19, Italy is “also probably the first one where they’ve re-started.” Pugini, who heads Italy’s Executive Producers’ Association (APE), also points out that almost all his colleagues in APE have big international projects “that look set to start this fall.” Most of these involve Cinecittà.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Italy, cameras will start rolling in Naples in mid-Septemer on Paolo Sorrentino’s Netflix movie “The Hand of God,” a personal pic that marks the Oscar-winning helmer’s return to filmmaking in his hometown after 20 years; Venice fest regular Mario Martone (“Capri Revolution”) is also in Naples, having resumed shooting of “Qui Rido Io,” about local theater luminary Edoardo Scarpetta; and Andrea De Sica (“Baby”) is shooting dark teen chiller “Non Mi Uccidere” in Italy’s Alpine Alto Adige region.
So, while Italy’s production restart picture isn’t entirely rosy – lots of shoots are being held back by insurance issues and other virus-related matters – the country’s prospects on the production front are relatively upbeat. In terms of restart the exhibition sector is still looking pretty shaky, though the arrival of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” which was partly shot in Italy, rapidly prompted a more than 40% boost in admissions.
September will provide the first opportunity for Italy’s industry to start getting a sense of the type of traction movie theaters can hope for with local audiences after Covid-19 disruption. And though there is still a scarcity of fresh product taking the theatrical plunge, a few titles coming to Italian theaters are potential draws. These include romantic drama “After We Collided” (A.K.A. “After 2”) given that “After” was a big hit in Italy; “The New Mutants”; and, segueing from its Venice launch, Susanna Nicchiarelli’s costume drama “Miss Marx.”