Film Movement has acquired North American rights to Italian director Mario Martone’s “The King of Laughter” (“Qui Rido Io”) ahead of its world premiere Tuesday in competition at the Venice Film Festival.
The film, being sold internationally by Italy’s True Colours, toplines Toni Servillo (“The Great Beauty”) as popular and prolific early 20th century Neapolitan actor and playwright Eduardo Scarpetta.
In 1904, at the height of his popularity, Scarpetta took a great risk: he staged a parody of “La figlia di Iorio,” a tragedy written by the greatest Italian poet of the day, Gabriele D’Annunzio. After all hell broke loose, Scarpetta ended up being sued for plagiarism by D’Annunzio himself. It was the beginning of the first copyright lawsuit in Italy, and a draining experience for Scarpetta and his family. It was also a challenging time that he overcame with an act worthy of a great thespian.
Film Movement is planning a limited theatrical release of “King of Laughter” in select U.S. cities, according to True Colours head of sales Giulia Casavecchia, who negotiated the deal with Film Movement president Michael Rosenberg at the Venice market. “We are delighted that we made this sale ahead of the film’s Venice premiere,” Casavecchia said. “Let’s hope it bodes well for the six other Italian titles we are selling here.”
The King of Laughter” is produced by Italy’s Indigo Film with backing from Rai Cinema, and in co-production with Spain’s Tornasol.
Film Movement previously handled the U.S. release of the restored version of Martone’s drama “Troubling Love” (“L’amore molesto”), an Elena Ferrante adaptation that launched from Cannes in 1995.
Since then, however, Martone has become a Venice veteran. He was in competition on the Lido recently in 2018 with “Capri Revolution” and then again in 2019 with “The Mayor of Rione Sanità,” a contemporary adaptation of the play about organized crime by late Neapolitan playwright Eduardo De Filippo. However, neither of those pics got a North American release.
“The King of Laughter” will go on theatrical release in Italy Sept. 9 via RAI Cinema’s 01 Distribution unit.