Francesco Rutelli, head of Italy’s motion picture association ANICA (pictured), has said plans are in the works to modify Italy’s theatrical window regulations so that some of the blocked product from around 70 feature films can go straight to TV and streamers without producers or exhibitors taking too much of an economic hit.
“We have dozens of local and international films that can’t be released,” Rutelli said. This means that when the coronavirus crisis subsides “we will have a huge glut,” he noted.
That’s why “the business model as we knew it…the window between theatrical, TV and platforms will undoubtedly — very constructively, and not unilaterally — change,” Rutelli said, adding that he is in negotiations with Netflix and other streamers, as well as reps from the country’s distribution and exhibition orgs, to “try and find new balances” going forward.
At least 40 film shoots in different stages across Italy have been halted, including several international productions, such as Netflix’s big-budget Dwayne Johnson movie “Red Notice,” estimated to be worth €50 million ($55.8 million) in Italian spend.
The country’s 3,850 screens have been closed since March 8 and will stay shut until at least April 3, meaning that some 70 feature film releases are being jeopardized.
Luigi Lonigro, who heads Italy’s distributors, told Italian reporters on a conference call Saturday that up to 40% of the smaller Italian and international titles being held up as theatrical releases by the lockdown will go straight to TV or streamers.
Broadcasters and platforms are being asked to pay a higher price for these premieres to offset the loss of their theatrical revenue stream. Part of this difference would go to exhibitors that had planned to release the film prior to cinemas being shut down.
Current government incentives for Italian films that get a theatrical release would also apply for a film that skips theatrical due to the virus crisis.
“We will experiment in the next few weeks with the removal of some windows (to) find the proper economic balance,” said Rutelli, who added that “Italy can be a trendsetter in finding a balanced solution to some of the problems that other countries may have to contend with down the road.”
The Italian government on Monday approved a €130 million ($145 million) aid package to shore up the country’s film and TV sector that is being hard hit by the coronavirus crisis.
Italy is suffering the biggest coronavirus outbreak in Europe with 27,980 cases and 2,158 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
The emergency subsidy fund will help exhibitors, distributors and producers who are bearing the brunt of being in lockdown mode, besides individual workers — including the estimated 173,000 Italians laboring in local film and film-related businesses, of which 112,000 are freelancers.
“It’s a good start,” said Rutelli.
The aid package was pushed through parliament by culture minister Dario Franceschini, a staunch supporter of Cinema Italiano who a few years ago introduced legislation that annually pumps some €400 million ($446.7 million) into the film and TV sector via various types of support schemes, including strong incentives to attract international productions.