Paramount+ launched in Italy Wednesday evening with a star-studded gala at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios. The streaming service unveiled a rich slate of Italian originals featuring top local talents Roberto Benigni and Carlo Verdone alongside Hollywood titles such as Sylvester Stallone crime drama “Tulsa King.”
“Italy is a country that has proved very receptive to streaming services,” said Paramount+ EVP and international general manager Marco Nobili, speaking to Variety ahead of the gala. “On-demand consumption has almost doubled in the country over the past three years.”
Nobili also underlined the historically strong presence of what is now Paramount Global in Italy with “MTV and our pay-TV channels and a strong partnership with Sky.”
Italy is considered a major testing ground for Paramount+, which launched in South Korea, the U.K. and Ireland in June and will next expand to Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France in coming months. The Paramount platform is expected to launch in 45 markets by the end of the year.
Paramount is pricing the Italian service at $7.99 a month or $79.99 annually. But Paramount+ is going to be available for Sky Cinema subscribers at no additional cost. It will feature a library of more than 8,000 hours of programming comprising, including “Tulsa King,” Taylor Sheridan’s “Yellowstone” prequel “1923” starring Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford; “Halo,” the drama-fantasy series based on the enduring Xbox video game franchise; new British show “Sexy Beast,” French thriller “Mask: Marie Antoinette Serial Killer” and German drama “Simon Beckett’s Chemistry of Death.”
Paramount+ also unveiled its current slate of Italian originals, which Nobili said are meant to help attract “families and extended families” in Italy. These are part of the streamer’s plan to greenlight 150 international originals by 2025. Paramount has managed to lure Oscar-winning, local megastar Roberto Benigni (“Life Is Beautiful”) away from pubcaster RAI. Even more significantly, Paramount poached popular Italian comic Carlo Verdone away from Prime Video.
Below are highlights of Paramount+ Italian originals:
– “Francesco: Il Cantico Delle Creature” – Roberto Benigni, who toured the world with his stage adaptation of Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” will perform a similarly staged immersive reading of “The Canticle of the Creatures” by Saint Francis.
– “Vita da Carlo” (Life as Carlo). Amazon Prime Video had the first season of this series featuring Italian comic actor and director Carlo Verdone, whose films are systematic hits at the Italian box office. But, in an unusual twist, the second installment of this Rome-set show in which Verdone stars as a fictionalized version of himself, will instead bow on Paramount+. Paramount has also inked an overall deal with Verdone and his producer Aurelio De Laurentiis.
– “Circeo” This series directed by Italy’s Andrea Molaioli and produced by Rome’s Cattleya, which is part of ITV Studios, reconstructs the aftermath of the crime that came to be known as “The Circeo Massacre” which upset Italy in the 1970s, after two teenage girls were found in the trunk of a car in Rome, naked, wrapped in blankets and drenched in blood.
– “Corpo Libero” Paramount+ teamed up with Italian and German pubcasters RAI and ZDF on this six-episode teen thriller series revolving around a team of elite female teenage gymnasts engaged in an international competition high up in the snowy Italian Alps. The show is lead-produced by Indigo Film and directed by Cosima Spender (“Palio”) and Valerio Bonelli.
– “Ti Mangio il Cuore” (Burning Hearts) This mafia drama stars Italian pop singer, Elodie, in her first acting role, as Marilena, the wife of a mob boss who falls in love with the heir to their enemy family. Pic directed by Pippo Mezzapesa and produced by Indigo just bowed at Venice in the Horizons section. It will soon launch in Italian cinemas before streaming exclusively on Paramount+ by January 2023.
– “Miss Fallaci” This series about the 1958 journey to the U.S. of iconic Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci portrays Fallaci’s early years in Hollywood before she became a legendary war correspondent known for her explosive personality. The show, produced by Minerva pictures, will bow in 2023.